Birthday boy Tonali gives Milan the win with a brace

AC Milan need only four points from their remaining two games to secure their first Serie A title in 11 years, following a 3-1 win over Hellas Verona at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

With cross-city rivals Inter Milan taking top spot on Friday, the visitors began the match looking like a side eager for a return to the summit. Alexis Saelemaekers played a delightful cross towards Rade Krunić, whose header was tipped over the bar by Lorenzo Montipò. ‘I Rossoneri’ thought they had broken the deadlock through Sandro Tonali, who outmuscled Ivan Ilić from Mike Maignan’s long ball forward and smashed the ball home. However, a VAR review determined that the Milan man was marginally offside.

Verona gradually worked their way into the contest, and Gianluca Caprari flashed an effort just wide of the right-hand post. Antonín Barák then played in a perfectly-weighted pass to Giovanni Simeone, whose shot hit the side-netting. The warning signs were there for Stefano Pioli’s men, and it was ‘I Gialloblu’ that took the lead with a beautifully-crafted goal. Caprari picked out Darko Lazović on the left-hand side, and the Serbian’s cross was headed home by Davide Faraoni. That joy was short lived though, with the equaliser created by the impressive Rafael Leão. The Portuguese winger made a superb run down the left and his ball across the face of goal was diverted home by birthday boy Tonali in first-half stoppage time.

Tonali was on target again just five minutes into the second half at the end of an excellent counter-attacking move. Leão made another fantastic run forward and picked out Tonali once more to turn the game on its head for a third goal in his last three appearances. Milan were looking to kill off the contest, as Leão’s effort was kept out at the near post by Montipo. It was a case of job done when Alessandro Florenzi blasted in a fierce strike to the far post to give the visitors an ultimately convincing win.

Pioli’s side now sit two points clear of Inter with two games left of the season. Meanwhile, Verona’s slim hopes of European qualification are now over. They remain ninth and seven points adrift of Atalanta in the UEFA Europa Conference League berth.


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