AC Milan's fringe players came to the fore as Stefano Pioli's side recorded a crucial victory at Hellas Verona to move to within three points of league leaders Inter in Serie A.
The Rossoneri were missing almost half of their regular starters, with Theo Hernandez, Ante Rebic and Hakan Calhanoglu joining Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the sidelines.
But Rade Krunic made the most of a rare start, scoring with a sublime free-kick to open his account in the league and give Milan a first-half lead.
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Five minutes after the restart, on-loan Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot also scored his first goal in Serie A to double Milan's advantage with an emphatic finish after a well-worked team move.
Verona offered next to nothing in attack until a late rally, with their best chance falling to defender Federico Ceccherini who glanced his header wide, while Krunic cleared Davide Faraoni's goal-bound effort off the line.
Milan's fully deserved victory means the Rossoneri are now within touching distance of city rivals Inter, who play host to Atalanta on Monday night in their game in hand. Milan travel to Old Trafford for the first-leg of the Europa League round of 16 on Thursday night next.

TALKING POINT - Milan's fringe players get the job done

On paper, this looked an extremely difficult tie for Milan. Only Juventus and Inter have conceded fewer goals than Verona this season, who were hoping to extend their unbeaten run to five league games. Milan were missing some of their best players, but they comfortably overcame the hosts to turn up the heat on rivals Inter.
That's largely thanks to their fringe players, who made the most of a rare opportunity. It had been a nervy affair until Krunic opened the scoring with a beautiful free-kick which will end up on the highlight reel come the end of term. Dalot completed the job with a finish that any striker would have been proud of.
With all their injuries, Milan needed to dig deep and that's certainly what they did. It was a performance of a true title contender. All eyes will now be on Inter vs Atalanta on Monday night.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Diogo Dalot (AC Milan)

The 21-year-old was a real livewire from full-back, putting in an excellent performance that should be rewarded with a reunion with his parent club Manchester United in the Europa League.

PLAYER RATINGS

Verona: Silvestri 5, Magnani 5, Gunter 5, Ceccherini 5, Faraoni 5, Tameze 5, Veloso 5, Lazovic 6, Barak 5, Zaccagni 5, Lasagna 5.. subs: Favilli 5, Dimarco 6, Ilic 5, Salcedo 5, Bessa 5.
AC Milan: Donnarumma 6, Calabria 6, Romagnoli 6, Tomori 6, Dalot 8, Kessie 7, Meite 7, Saelemaekers 7, Krunic 8, Castillejo 6, Leao 5.. subs: Hauge N/A.

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KEY MOMENTS

15' - Chance for Milan! Leao's goal drought continues. He spurns a huge chance to give the visitors the lead. Calabria's cross is played perfectly between Verona's centre-backs, finding Leao, who heads over from seven yards out, centre of goal. Must do better.
27' - GOAL! Verona 0-1 AC Milan (Rade Krunic): Oh my, what a strike from Krunic to give Milan the lead! It's an unstoppable effort from Krunic as he lifts his free-kick over the wall and fires into the top corner. What a way to open your account for the season!
50' - GOAL! Verona 0-2 Milan (Diogo Dalot): That might well do it! It's another emphatic finish, this time from Dalot! He lets the ball roll across his body and he fires into the top corner with a venomous strike!
87' - Off the line! Krunic is on the post to head clear from Faraoni's effort. He has certainly produced at both ends today!

KEY STATS

  • AC Milan have scored a direct free-kick goal in two of their last three Serie A matches against Verona (previously Calhanoglu in February 2020).
  • Thanks to Diogo Dalot, Milan have now six different scorers born since 1/1/1999 onwards, at least three more than any other side in Serie A this season.
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