AC Milan down Lecce to keep European push on track
AC Milan shrugged off the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to sweep past Lecce 4-1 and keep their bid for European football next season alive on Monday as 10-man Fiorentina were held 1-1 by basement club Brescia.
Swedish star Ibrahimovic has yet to return from a calf injury but Milan put their exit in the Italian Cup semi-final behind them at relegation-threatened Lecce.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus will return to their quest for a ninth consecutive league title at Bologna later Monday, five days after losing the Italian Cup final to Napoli.
The Serie A leaders are just one point ahead of second-placed Lazio, who travel to Atalanta, in fourth, on Wednesday.
In Lecce, Samuel Castillejo opened the scoring after 26 minutes for the visitors, connecting with a Hakan Calhanoglu cross from the right to slot in his first goal this season.
Marco Mancosu pulled Lecce level from the penalty spot after 54 minutes, sparking an immediate Milan fightback with two goals in three minutes.
Lecce keeper Gabriel denied Calhanoglu with Giacomo Bonaventura on hand to finish off with Ante Rebic racing through the Lecce defence for a third — and his seventh goal this season.
Rafael Leao got his head to an Andrea Conti cross with Calhanoglu again involved in the build-up after 72 minutes.
Milan moves up to seventh equal on points with Napoli, who occupy the final Europa League berth before they play this week.
In Florence, Franck Ribery returned after nearly seven months out following an ankle injury but his side settled for a third consecutive stalemate against Brescia.
Alfredo Donnarumma put Brescia ahead after 17 minutes from the penalty spot but Fiorentina captain German Pezzella responded with a diving header after half an hour.
Fiorentina had two goals disallowed and played the final 20 minutes a man down when Martin Caceres was sent off for a second yellow card.
The Tuscany club is 13th with Brescia ending their three-match losing streak.