Two Brazilians keep Milan in control of the Scudetto race...
Milan striker Alexandre Pato came off the bench to score the winner against Chievo in a 2-1 victory. The three points alleviate some of the pressure on the Rossoneri, who at least temporarily, extended their lead at the top of the Serie A standings to five points.
Antonio Cassano started alongside Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack, while Christian Abbiati was in goal despite the head injury suffered in the 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday evening.
Chievo set up in their usual 4-4-2 formation with veteran Sergio Pellissier once again the target man in attack. The Verona-based side would be hoping to bounce back after a 4-1 thrashing from Cagliari last weekend.
Both sides were not immediately in their stride and the first real chance was Pellissier's snap shot from outside the area flew just wide of the post.
Cassano's through-balls threatened to open up the hosts, but their defenders were attentive in blocking runs by Robinho and Ibrahimovic. Bostjan Cesar eventually earned a booking for a late tackle on the Italian, whose influence in the match was growing.
The visitors' talented trident combined to take the lead in controversial circumstances in the 25th minute. Cassano chipped the ball to the far post for Ibrahimovic and the Swede headed the ball down for Robinho to control and apply the finish on the turn. The Chievo players appealed for the goal to be ruled out to no avail, as it appeared the Brazilian used his arm to control the ball.
Soon after, goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino stopped Milan from going two in front, making a fine diving save from Ibrahimovic's long range effort. Chievo were denied at the other end soon after as Cyril Thereau's first-time volley was blocked by Luca Antonini.
The Chievo fans gasped at the end of the first-half as their heroes somehow failed to find an equaliser. Pellissier beat Alessandro Nesta to a ball into the area, but prodded wide from just a few yards away and it remained 1-0 for Milan after the first 45 minutes.
The second-half began with substitutions for either side, as Nico Pulzetti made way for Mariano Bogliacino, and Massimo Oddo replaced Luca Antonini.
Ibrahimovic was fouled by Santiago Morero and then stung the palms of the prepared Sorrentino with the resulting freekick as the second-half started in scrappy fashion, littered with fouls.
Chievo went level against the run of play. Thereau collected the ball on the left-side of the area and supplied a pin-point cross for Fernandes at the far post. The Swiss international placed a downward header into the net and it was 1-1.
Massimiliano Allegri made his intention to attack clear as Alexandre Pato came on to replace Cassano. The former Sampdoria man had not been able to stamp his authority on the match as he did in the opening half.
Milan controlled possession, but were finding it hard to break through the Chievo defence. Ignazio Abate flew down the right and cut back for Robinho, but his effort was stopped by the goalkeeper and Ibrahimovic could not convert the rebound.
Pato scored a wonder goal to put Milan back in front with under ten minutes left. Gattuso sparked a counter by flying over the half way line before passing ahead for the youngster, who in brilliant Brazilian style, was able to samba through the defence before firing into the near side of the net tio give his side a 2-1 lead.
It was all going downhill for Chievo, as Cesar earned his second booking and was sent off after using his hand to try and beat Robinho to the ball.
Robinho and Pato failed to connect on the counter attack, but Milan's lead was intact. Napoli play late on Sunday and can once again cut the gap at the top to three points if they win against Catania.