Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes failure to beat Inter in their next Serie A game will end their title chances and leave them to battle for a Champions League qualification spot instead.

The Rossoneri ended the weekend four points adrift of leaders Inter having played a game more after a dire 0-0 draw with Juventus at San Siro.

It marked the first goalless draw between the two giants in the Italian top flight since December 2007.

Milan face their neighbours on February 5, with Pioli suggesting anything less than a win will be fatal to their Scudetto hopes.

"We knew the games against Juventus and Inter would say a great deal about our future," he told DAZN.

"If we don't beat Inter, then our campaign will be very similar to last season, when we won at the end to go second and risked crashing out of the Champions League places.

"We have our way of playing and must realise that if we want to achieve something extraordinary again, we need to give everything. I saw many individual performances of a very high level today.

"We had the right performance for our circumstances and the opposition, but were lacking precision in the penalty area.

"We tried to be dangerous and limited Juventus to no chances. I don't think it was a tactical issue, as we had players in the box, but got the final ball wrong.

"The state of the pitch didn't help either, as we had some bad first touches, had to take extra touches to get it under control and that slowed us down."

Indeed, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's first-half withdrawal through injury was caused by the state of the pitch, Pioli confirmed.

"Ibra felt pain in the Achilles tendon," he added. "He blamed the pitch, which was very hard, so we hope he can recover over the next few days."

Milan's Pierre Kalulu was part of a defence that did not allow Juve a single shot on target and the 21-year-old wants to see an improvement in attack.

"It's a positive statistic for everyone in the team and not just for us defenders," he told Milan TV. "We did well and must continue like this.

"It's an important game for us and for the fans. Compared to tonight, we need to do better up front if we are to bring home the three points."

Milan lost further ground to Inter in the Serie A title race after they were held to an insipid 0-0 draw by Juventus at San Siro.

Stefano Pioli's side suffered a damaging 2-1 home defeat to Spezia on Monday and a return to winning ways never looked likely against an unambitious Bianconeri outfit, who failed to register a single shot on target.

The hosts' woes were compounded when Zlatan Ibrahimovic hobbled off in the first half, with neither set of players stepping up after that to prevent Milan and Juve drawing both their games in a single Serie A campaign for the first time since the 1991-92 season.

The stalemate meant Milan ended the weekend in third place, four points adrift of leaders Inter having played a game more, while Juve remained in fifth.

Milan did most of the pressing in the early stages, with their best effort coming in the 20th minute when Wojciech Szczesny got down well to paw away Rafael Leao's strike from the edge of the penalty area.

They suffered a blow shortly after the midway point in the first half when Ibrahimovic sustained an injury and was replaced by Olivier Giroud, the France international largely toiling in attack before the interval.

The former Chelsea striker saw a header kept out by Szczesny in the 70th minute – one of very few chances in a miserable second half. 

Juve appeared content to settle for a point for much of the match, with Massimiliano Allegri stretching his unbeaten run against Pioli as a coach in Serie A to a whopping 16 games - with 11 wins and five draws.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed he urged Kylian Mbappe to leave his comfort zone and join Real Madrid after being approached for advice by the Paris Saint-Germain forward. 

Mbappe was the subject of two big-money bids from Madrid in the last transfer window and recently revealed he asked PSG to grant him a move away.

The France international is out of contract at the end of the season and continues to be linked with a free transfer to the Santiago Bernabeu.

He has spent five seasons with PSG, the first of those on an initial loan from fellow Ligue 1 side Monaco, whom he represented for two campaigns.

More than six years after bursting onto the scene, former PSG striker Ibrahimovic believes it is time for Mbappe to test himself in a new league.

"Only Kylian can answer you about where he has to go. It depends on what he wants, what he thinks," Ibrahimovic told L'Equipe.

"Me, I would have gone. But if I am PSG, I would try to keep him. It's him who will decide. PSG want to keep him, obviously, but does he want to stay?

"I also think that there are other clubs that want him: if you are a manager, and you have the means and you do not want to take Mbappe, you are in the wrong business. 

"He asked me [for advice], yes, and I told him: 'If I were you, I would go to Real'.

"I had the chance to play in different teams, different countries, with different champions, and that's how I learned and grew. 

"Playing at home all your career is easier, in my opinion. Whereas if you pack your bags and go to other places, it's an adventure."

Ibrahimovic himself spent four seasons with PSG and scored 156 goals, a tally bettered only by Edinson Cavani (200) in the club's list of all-time goalscorers.

Mbappe is fast closing in on Ibrahimovic in that regard as he has 151 goals in 198 appearances for the Parisians in all competitions since his debut in September 2017.

That is the fourth-most of any player from Europe's top five leagues across that period, behind Cristiano Ronaldo (158), Lionel Messi (168) and Robert Lewandowski (212).

 

While Mbappe is a guaranteed starter for PSG when available, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has struggled to hold down a place in the side since joining from Milan.

Donnarumma played a key part in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph and impressed across six years at San Siro, but he has had to share goalkeeping duties with Keylor Navas this term.

That has come as a shock to Milan striker Ibrahimovic, who spent two and a half years playing in the same side as the Italian stopper.

"I am very surprised. But I know it's not easy for the coach, and I know Navas is a great goalkeeper too," he said.

"They have two phenomena in goal. In my world, Donnarumma is the number one today.

"I don't know if it's good to alternate goalkeepers, or if it's more of a favour you do to one of them. I'm used to having a goalkeeper who is number one and is always the same. 

"And about Donnarumma there is no question: he is the best in the world, and that's that. I played with him, I know what I'm talking about."

Stefano Pioli is paying no attention to his poor record against Massimiliano Allegri ahead of Milan's crunch clash with Juventus at San Siro on Sunday.

Milan boss Pioli has lost 11 and drawn four of his 15 meetings with Allegri in Serie A – the longest winless run for one head coach against another in the three-points-per-win era 

That includes a 1-1 draw in their most recent meeting four months ago when Ante Rebic cancelled out an early Alvaro Morata opener.

The Rossoneri are seven points better off than Juve with 22 games played, however, and Pioli is looking to end his disappointing run against Allegri in this latest encounter.

"I don't like to look back too much," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference. "The past doesn't count, only tomorrow's game.

"It's a negative fact, of course, and one to try to change immediately."

 

Milan may be three places in front their opponents, but they suffered a shock 2-1 loss at home to Spezia last time out to miss out on the chance to move top of Serie A.

Juve are unbeaten in their last eight league games, meanwhile, winning six and drawing two, which is their best run in the competition since 12 without defeat in December 2020.

And Pioli is anticipating a far different test to earlier in the season when Juventus were still seeking their first win of Allegri's second spell in Turin.

"Juve have grown since our last game and are in positive form, but we are also doing well," he said. "We'll have to fight ball by ball and inch by inch.

"It's evident that Juventus are now in a great moment of form compared to the start of the season. We will have to put in a great performance.

"It's an important game, but it won't be decisive. Juventus are showing their strength, so being able to win would be important for our spot in the table."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available to face Juve and is seeking a third league goal against his former side, with those previous two strikes coming at San Siro in 2010 and 2020.

Should he find the net, he will become the oldest player to score against Juve in the Italian top flight at the age of 40 years and 112 days, overtaking Silvio Piola.

The Sweden international has not scored a home goal since September, but he remains an important player under Pioli.

"He's had his chances but he hasn't taken advantage of them," Pioli said. "With Juventus we won't have 10 goals but there will be situations where he can be decisive for us."

Stefano Pioli hailed the united front that Milan displayed in the 3-0 win over Venezia as he marked 400 games as a Serie A head coach.

The former Lazio, Inter and Fiorentina boss saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic give Milan a second-minute lead, before Theo Hernandez's second-half double wrapped up the points.

Pioli became just the eighth head coach in Serie A, in the three-points-for-a-win era, to reach take charge of 400 matches, and said he was only made aware of the landmark by Milan's communications boss.

Victory at Venezia nudged Milan ahead of Inter at the top of the table, ahead of the Nerazzurri's clash with Lazio later on Sunday, as Pioli's men continue to show last season's title challenge was no flash in the pan.

"I believe that this should be the year of confirmation," said Pioli. "But there is still an important step between being competitive and winning.

"Against Venezia it was a very delicate match, easy only on the face of it, and we were good at making it simpler than it could have been."

Quoted by Sky Italia, Pioli said: "We played with the right approach and the right determination, we played as a team.

"We have more awareness of the past, born from all the experiences we have been having. Many young players are becoming mature, we are still a young team but we are more ready mentally."

Milan were firmly in the Scudetto hunt midway through last season but were overtaken by a fast-finishing Inter.

It would help to have a fully fit Ibrahimovic on hand throughout the next four months. His contributions dried up over the closing stages of last season, with just one goal in his final eight Serie A games after a breakneck start, yet at the age of 40 he is playing a big role this term.

Since his return to Milan midway through the 2019-20 season, Ibrahimovic has scored 22 goals in 25 Serie A away games. The Swedish striker's opener at Venezia means he has scored in six consecutive league matches away from San Siro, the second time he has achieved that during this spell with the club.

It also gave him a share of a European top-five league 21st-century record, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo's feat of scoring against 80 different clubs across the continent's elite leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1).

Ibrahimovic and Milan will be limited to domestic duty for the rest of the season after finishing bottom of their Champions League group.

Pioli might find that helps Milan in the long run, even though he remains frustrated by his team's performance in that competition.

He said: "Now it could be an advantageous situation to have weeks free from European commitments, but we are not satisfied to no longer be in the Champions League."

Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao played crucial roles as Milan comfortably beat 10-man Venezia 3-0 on Sunday to return to the summit of Serie A.

Stefano Pioli's men never looked in danger of dropping points at Stadio Pierluigi Penzo and were good value for a third straight Serie A victory.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – teed up by Leao – got the ball rolling inside two minutes as he equalled Cristiano Ronaldo's record of scoring against 80 different teams in Europe's top five leagues this century.

Leao released Hernandez to make it 2-0 early in the second half, with the French defender wrapping the win up soon after with a penalty – which resulted in Michael Svoboda's dismissal – for his third goal of the season against Venezia.

Milan swiftly took charge as the lively Leao raced into the left side of the box and played the ball right across the face of goal for Ibrahimovic to tap in.

Further chances arrived for Milan, with Leao, Hernandez and Alessandro Florenzi forcing Sergio Romero into saves, though there was little the Venezia goalkeeper could do when it came to the visitors scoring their second.

Leao was involved again, feeding Hernandez's run in behind the defence and the left-back smashed past the helpless Romero.

Hernandez put the game beyond Venezia just before the hour, expertly picking out the top-right corner from 12 yards after Michael Svoboda handled – seemingly accidentally – on the line, earning himself a red card.

It sealed a routine win for Milan, with Pioli marking his 400th Serie A match as a coach in style. He is the eighth manager to reach the milestone in the competition.

 

What does it mean? Milan keep pressure on Inter

This was very much a case of Milan getting the job done with minimal fuss – they were very comfortable throughout and impressed despite being without numerous important players.

As such, they open up a two-point lead at the top of the table. Of course, Inter – who face Lazio later on Sunday – have two games in hand, but there is no denying Milan's position is a nice one to be in.

There is no guarantee Inter will win their two bonus games. Even if they do, a four-point deficit is by no means impossible to claw back.

Hernandez leads from the back

Several Milan players impressed but Hernandez was the standout. He got forward so often from left-back that his five shots ended up being more than anyone else – similarly, his expected goals (1.86), shots on target and big chances (both three) were highs for the match, while only Leao (seven) and Ibrahimovic (six) had more than Hernandez's four touches in the box.

Add to that his two key passes (bettered by just Leao), and it shows him in a very good light indeed.

A difficult day for Svoboda

It was a strange game for Svoboda. One moment he would show great composure, cleverly spinning away from Ibrahimovic, but then the next he would do something clumsy.

While the red card may have been slightly harsh, as the ball seemed to hit his thigh first, it was his error – passing the ball to Ibrahimovic on the edge of the box – that led to the situation anyway.

What's next?

Milan are in Coppa Italia action on Wednesday as they host Genoa, before then welcoming Spezia to San Siro in Serie A four days later. Venezia continue their fight against relegation in a week's time at home to Empoli after visiting Atalanta in the cup in midweek.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has matched a European top-five league 21st-century record, set by Cristiano Ronaldo last month, after scoring for Milan against Venezia.

The veteran forward tucked in from close range inside two minutes at Stadio Pierluigi Penzo on Sunday, bringing up his eighth Serie A goal of the season and his first of 2022.

It means Ibrahimovic has now found the net against 80 different clubs across Europe's big five leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1).

Since 2000, the only other player to have achieved that feat is Ronaldo, who reached the milestone with a goal in Manchester United's 3-1 win over Burnley at Old Trafford on December 30.

Ibrahimovic has now also scored in every calendar year since 1999, when he made his debut for Malmo in Sweden.

Veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss Milan's Serie A game with Empoli on Wednesday due to a knee injury.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli confirmed the 40-year-old Swedish forward's absence along with Rafael Leao leaving him short of attacking options.

Ibrahimovic has netted seven league goals this term for Milan, who have only managed one point from their past two games, slipping four points behind leaders Inter in the league

"[Leao] won’t be there tomorrow, he’ll be back against Roma. Ibrahimovic won’t be there tomorrow because of an overload on his knee," Pioli told reporters.

Pioli was more positive about captain Alessio Romagnoli's prospects of playing, along with Theo Hernandez after illness amid an injury crisis at the club, without Simon Kjaer, Davide Calabria, Ante Rebic and Pietro Pellegri also out.

"Theo has become more complete, now he does the defensive phase better too," Pioli said.

"He gives us a lot on the attacking side. He’s better, I hope he’ll be in top condition tomorrow."

Pioli added that he paid little attention to the criticism levelled at his side lately, following Sunday's 1-0 home loss to Napoli who leapfrogged them into second spot.

"I read little, but some things are useful to improve," he said. "Against Napoli, Milan played a good match.

"We make mistakes that are not allowing us to get results, clearly we need to do something more. We need more quality."

Pioli added: "When results don’t come it’s right to be less calm, but also more determined.

"We have to think about tomorrow’s game, we want to get back on track after a home defeat. We wanted to score more points in the first half of the season than we did last year. It won’t be possible, but we want the three points tomorrow."

Milan have 39 points after 18 games, but have only collected eight points from their past seven league games.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic insisted he does not need to win the Ballon d'Or to prove the Milan star is the best.

Ibrahimovic has won league titles with Ajax, Inter, Barcelona, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, though the Swedish forward has never claimed the Ballon d'Or.

The evergreen 40-year-old continues to produce for Milan in his second spell at San Siro, where the Rossoneri are dreaming of their first Scudetto since Ibrahimovic helped deliver silverware in 2010-11.

Ibrahimovic's outspoken agent Mino Raiola said he cannot take the Ballon d'Or seriously due to the fact the Sweden international has never received the prized individual honour.

But during a presentation for his new book "Adrenaline" in Milan on Sunday, Ibrahimovic was quoted as saying: "The Ballon d'Or is a nice thing. But I don't need it to prove that I am the best."

 

 

The event took place after Ibrahimovic scored his 300th league goal across Europe's top five leagues in Saturday's last-gasp 1-1 Serie A draw at Udinese.

Ibrahimovic came to Milan's rescue in spectacular fashion, his stoppage-time equaliser salvaging a point for the Rossoneri in what was his 450th appearance in the top five leagues – the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have reached that mark previously in the 21st century.

"It's the mentality. I train in the same way that I play," Ibrahimovic said of his longevity.

"Every day is a final. It was difficult when I arrived at Milan [for his second spell], but we've created a group. We've created an atmosphere that is over the top.

"Then there was the pandemic, but the staff here is great. I've worked with other teams in my career, but this is really excellent. The group goes towards the same target. Unfortunately, we didn't win yesterday. I should have scored two goals.

"Now, I wake up with pain every day, but I have adrenaline and I go on. This year, the adrenaline is for the Scudetto. Yesterday I scored a goal, but we didn't win and it hurts."

Stefano Pioli was pleased with Milan's character as they salvaged a 1-1 draw at Udinese but warned they must raise their game after slipping up in the Serie A title race.

Four days after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool, the Rossoneri were facing a shock defeat at the Dacia Arena before Zlatan Ibrahimovic volleyed a stoppage-time equaliser.

Ibrahimovic's goal was his 300th combined in Europe's top-five leagues, a landmark only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have also reached this century.

Beto had capitalised on Tiemoue Bakayoko's mistake to give Udinese a deserved lead 17 minutes into their first game under interim head coach Gabriele Cioffi following Luca Gotti's sacking this week.

Isaac Success was sent off for clashing with Mike Maignan following Ibrahimovic's late goal, but there was no time for Milan to force a winner and they could drop to third on Sunday if Inter and Napoli win.

Pioli responded to a poor first-half showing by hauling Bakayoko, Ismael Bennacer and Rade Krunic off at the break and the head coach was left with mixed emotions after watching his side drop points.

He told DAZN: "We start the matches to win and therefore we cannot be satisfied. Let's start with small goals, we can do even better and we will try."

Pioli says Milan must regroup following a difficult week in which they failed to match the sort of standards that lifted them to the summit.

"There was a lack of clarity, we had to force our opponents to move more. It was not a brilliant first half, the goal took confidence away from us," he added.

"I am satisfied with the reaction, it is a sign of character and it is clear that we need to find our rhythm."

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's milestone stoppage-time strike salvaged a 1-1 draw for Serie A leaders Milan at Udinese on Saturday.

Milan's miserable week looked set to take another turn for the worse after Beto gave Udinese a first-half lead at Dacia Arena, four days after the Rossoneri were knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool.

But Ibrahimovic rescued a point with an acrobatic volley in time added on, taking his goal tally to 300 in Europe's top five leagues.

Isaac Success was then shown a red card for violent conduct as Udinese had to settle for a point in their first game under interim head coach Gabriele Cioffi, who stepped in when Luca Gotti was sacked this week.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit another career milestone after netting his 300th goal across Europe's top five leagues.

The Milan veteran scored a spectacular stoppage-time equaliser against Udinese on Saturday in what was his 450th appearance in the top five leagues.

That took Ibrahimovic to 300 goals in those competitions – the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, LaLiga and Ligue 1.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have reached that mark previously in the 21st century.

Ibrahimovic has featured in four of the top five leagues, with the Bundesliga the only competition missing off his list.

Having joined Juventus in 2004 from Ajax, the Sweden striker has gone on to play for Inter, Barcelona, Milan (over two spells), Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.

Ibrahimovic has now scored seven Serie A goals this term. He netted 15 last season and 10 in 2019-20 after he returned to Milan following a stint in MLS with the LA Galaxy.

The 40-year-old scored 17 goals in his sole full season in the Premier League with United, averaging a strike every 143 minutes.

His best minutes-per-goal ratio across a full league campaign so far came in his final season at PSG in 2015-16 (67), in which he also set up a career-high 13 league goals for team-mates.

Ibrahimovic scored 38 times in Ligue 1 that season, with an impressive shot conversion rate of 24.52 per cent from 155 attempts.

He has scored 30 or more league goals on two occasions, in 2015-16 and in 2012-13, also with PSG.

Ibrahimovic's maiden season in one of the big five leagues produced 16 goals for Juve. He failed to settle at Barca under Pep Guardiola but still contributed 16 LaLiga goals in 2009-10.

Just over half of his goals have have been scored in Italy (154), while 113 came in Ligue 1.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to stay at Milan for "life" as the evergreen superstar eyes a Rossoneri contract extension.

Ibrahimovic celebrated his 40th birthday in October but the veteran forward has shown no signs of slowing down amid Milan's Serie A title bid.

Out of contract at the end of the season, Ibrahimovic has scored six goals in nine league appearances to help Scudetto-chasing Milan to the top of the table through 16 rounds.

Ibrahimovic has been a revelation since re-joining Milan for a second spell in January 2020 and as the Swede continues to defy 'Father Time', he has no plans to leave San Siro.

"I want to play as long as possible, and as long as I have that adrenaline, I will continue," Ibrahimovic – who was part of the last Milan team to win Serie A in 2010-11 – told Rai Tre's Che Tempo Che Fa.

"Let's put pressure on Milan here to give me an extension and I hope to stay at Milan for life.

"I still have objectives that I can achieve and I want to win another Scudetto."

 

Ibrahimovic added: "I don't know what will happen after football, so I am a little scared to stop. We'll see, but I want to continue playing so that I don't have any regrets."

Milan defeated Salernitana 2-0 on Saturday, with Ibrahimovic watching from the bench.

In Milan's previous victory – a 3-0 win over Genoa on Wednesday – Ibrahimovic scored his 153rd Serie A goal, drawing level with Stefano Nyers and Hernan Crespo in 26th place among the top scorers in the Italian competition.

His 73 league goals for Milan also took Swedish forward Ibrahimovic to 10th in Milan's standings, alongside Filippo Inzaghi.

Ibrahimovic has played alongside Milan great and current Rossoneri technical director Paolo Maldini, and his son Daniel – spanning two generations.

"It's wonderful, we'll see if the adrenaline continues and I can play with Daniel's son as well!" Ibrahimovic joked.

Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to re-sign with the Scudetto-chasing Rossoneri after his latest goalscoring exploits for the Serie A high-flyers.

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with a stunning first-half free-kick in Wednesday's 3-0 victory at Genoa, a result that moved Milan within a point of leaders Napoli, who squandered a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo.

The victory was a welcome return to form for Milan, having gone from unbeaten domestically to licking their wounds following back-to-back league defeats.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli signed a contract extension last week and Ibrahimovic wants to be the next to put pen to paper as the evergreen 40-year-old eyes silverware with the club.

"I have fun, before the match, we had already decided how long I would have played," Ibrahimovic said to Sky Sport Italia after the match. "These guys make me have fun and feel young.

"We had made errors that cost us the previous two games. It was all our fault, not our opponents' merit, but we won today and we remain up there.

"Now I have to renew. I am happy for [Pioli] because he deserves [his contract extension], if he renews, I renew. Pioli has done a great job.

"I am happy for the fans. For so many years, they have not enjoyed as they are enjoying now. I want to make them happy, but if we don't win a trophy we haven't done anything."

Ibrahimovic's goal was his 153rd goal in Serie A, drawing level with Stefano Nyers and Hernan Crespo in 26th place among the top scorers in the Italian competition.

His 73 league goals for Milan also took Swedish forward Ibrahimovic to 10th in Milan's standings, alongside Filippo Inzaghi.

Once Pioli had penned his own terms, the 56-year-old revealed that Ibrahimovic wasted no time in contacting him to ask for a new contract. 

The Milan boss praised his team's performance against Genoa, particularly the connection between Ibrahimovic and his team-mates.

"Zlatan is the only player who sent me a message as soon as I signed my contract," Pioli said to Sky Sport Italia. "It said congratulations, Mister, now sort mine out!

"That's Zlatan for you! This is a season that can give us satisfaction, I don't know how far we can go.

"We played with intensity and determination for the whole game this evening and unfortunately we are not a team that can do the bare minimum. We've got to give it our all, or we are not superior to the opposition.

"The arrival of Zlatan improved everything, certainly, but his team-mates also did well to accept his way of motivating them.

"At the same time, Zlatan has to thank his team-ates, because he has come back to being the great player he was a few years ago. It's give and take for them both."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Junior Messias scored as Milan bounced back from successive Serie A defeats in style, beating Genoa 3-0 away from home on Wednesday.

Veteran centre-forward Ibrahimovic punished the poor positioning of a Genoa wall, firing in an early free-kick to settle any Milan nerves.

Messias then scored twice, heading past Salvatore Sirigu in first-half stoppage time before fizzing a low strike into the bottom corner just after the hour mark.

Genoa were hardly able to threaten the visitors, with Milan's dominance duly reflected in the scoreline as the Rossoneri moved to within a point of leaders Napoli.

Ibrahimovic opened the scoring in just the 10th minute, bending his free-kick around the centrally positioned wall and into the bottom-right corner, leaving Sirigu with no chance in the Genoa goal.

The 40-year-old started the game in lively fashion, taking six of Milan's first seven shots in the opening 20 minutes, but it was Brahim Diaz who came closest to doubling the visitors' advantage, lashing narrowly over after a superb solo run shortly before the break.

Milan did go 2-0 up soon after, with Messias powering a looping header across goal and over the diving Sirigu after Rade Krunic's shot in the box was blocked and popped up into the air.

Hernani came close to pulling one back for Genoa early in the second half, but his towering header was kept out spectacularly by Mike Maignan before Fikayo Tomori produced a spectacular bicycle-kick clearance off the line.

It was Milan that scored next, Messias steering a low effort into the bottom-left corner to round off a flowing team move and give his side a three-goal cushion, which they held comfortably through to the final whistle.

What does it mean? Milan stabilise to maintain title tilt

Milan's Scudetto hopes had been dented by back-to-back defeats against Fiorentina and Sassuolo as they failed to take the opportunity to leapfrog Napoli, who also suffered their first league defeat of the campaign in that time.

However, the commanding victory not only restores some confidence for the Rossoneri but moves them closer to the leaders, who drew 2-2 at Sassuolo.

Ibrahimovic continues to age gracefully

Ibrahimovic's opening strike means the veteran striker has now equaled Silvio Piola's record for the most goals scored in Serie A after turning 38 years old (31).

Messias brings Brazilian flair back to Milan

Messias' brace made him the first Brazilian player to score twice for Milan in a Serie A away game since Ronaldinho did so against Juventus in 2010.

What's next?

Genoa travel to Turin to face Juventus on Sunday, while Milan host Salernitana on Saturday.

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