Inspired by their front two, the reigning champions climbed up to third in the table with a surprisingly comfortable victory over one of the form teams in Serie A
Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Robinho had been felled by Davide Lanzafame and the Brazilian doubled their advantage with a sublime finish midway through the first half after being released by his Swedish strike partner.
Francesco Lodi then put through his own net on 69 minutes as he attempted to clear Robinho’s goal-bound effort before Gianluca Zambrotta completed the rout moments later when he pounced on a rebound from Alberto Aquilani’s free kick.
In the absence of Antonio Cassano, who is set to be out of action for several months after undergoing heart surgery in midweek, Robinho was again paired with Ibrahimovic up front and the pair created panic in the Catania defence right from the off.
Consequently, it came as no surprise when they linked up to earn the home side a penalty just seven minutes in, Ibrahimovic slipping in Robinho, who was clumsily taken down by Lanzafame.
Ibrahimovic’s subsequent spot kick was by no means brilliant but it had sufficient power to sneak under the midriff of Mariano Andujar.
Catania were pleading for a penalty themselves moments later when Lanzafame’s cross struck Zambrotta’s left arm but the contact was completely unintentional and the visitors’ appeals were rightly waved away by the referee, Andrea Gervasoni.
Catania were growing in confidence, with Alejandro Gomez’s clever running from deep asking plenty of questions of the Milan defence, but the visitors were still struggling to cope with the movement and ingenuity of Ibrahimovic and Robinho and the dynamic duo teamed up wonderfully well again for a second goal on 24 minutes.
Ibrahimovic, with his back to goal, controlled the ball on halfway before spinning swiftly and volleying the ball through for Robinho. The Brazilian, picking the ball up wide on the left, cut inside Giuseppe Bellusci, leaving the Catania defender on his backside in the process, before finding the far corner with a precise side-footed finish.
Catania continued to battle and could have dragged themselves back into the game just before half-time but Daniele Bonera cleared Gonzalo Bergessio’s chip off the line after the Argentine forward had come away with the ball after colliding with Christian Abbiati.
However, in truth, Milan could have been out of sight by the break with Andujar having denied both Massimo Ambrosini and Robinho with fine reaction saves.
The home side looked a tad lethargic in the second half but they finally put the result beyond doubt on 69 minutes, Ibrahimovic again picking out Robinho with a measured pass and the former Manchester City man then seeing his subsequent shot bundled into the net by the unlucky Lodi.
Just over two minutes later it was 4-0, Zambrotta left with a simple task after Andujar had spilled Aquilani’s well-struck free kick.
Substitute Filippo Inzaghi could have added a fifth for Milan late on but their fans went home satisfied all the same after watching their side cruise to a win which lifted them into third in the table.
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