The Swedish striker was unstoppable as he inspired the Rossoneri past the lacklustre home side, scoring three goals in a game for the first time in 240 matchesMilan were in imperious form as they surged to an emphatic 4-0 win over a wretched Palermo at the Renzo Barbera, momentarily extending their lead over Juventus at the Serie A summit to four points.
The Rossoneri dominated proceedings from the off with Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagging a majestic first-half hat-trick. They did not let up in the second half but only added one more goal through Thiago Silva.
Milan settled into the game straight away with some crisp passing leading to the creation of some early opportunities. Ibrahimovic saw his drilled shot parried away by Emiliano Viviano and Urby Emanuelson came close twice in the opening 10 minutes. His first effort was screwed wide and his second, a drilled shot, was saved by Viviano.
Edgar Barreto supplied a rare attacking injection from midfield for Palermo as he burst past an idle Daniele Bonera after a give-and-go with Fabrizio Miccoli but shot straight at Christian Abbiati.
Milan continued to assume control and got their reward in the 22nd minute. Andrea Mantovani was careless in possession in front of his own goal, allowing Robinho to slip the ball to Ibrahimovic who curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Palermo almost equalised nine minutes later but Ignazio Abate blocked Mantovani’s goal-bound effort. The Rossoneri countered and Ibrahimovic made the most of a four-on-two situation as he cut inside Pisano and stabbed the ball in from the edge of the box.
The imposing striker was relentless and secured a truly memorable hat-trick in the 35th minute. Ibrahimovic executed a masterful 30 metre strike, using Mantovani to disguise his effort and caress the ball past a rooted Viviano.
It could have been four in the 39th minute after another counterattack ended with an unmarked Robinho finding Ibrahimovic. However, the Swede’s effort was matched by Viviano who saved well with his legs.
Milan picked up where they left off after the restart as they peppered the Palermo goal with shots. After Abate shot over, Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Stephan El Shaarawy all forced saves from Viviano.
The Rosanero could withstand the pressure no more and found themselves four goals down after 58 minutes. El Shaarawy whipped in a dangerous ball that Thiago Silva nodded into the back of the net.
Despite Milan’s dominance, Palermo almost pulled a goal back in the 61st minute. A slick move created space for Barreto on the edge of the box but he could only hit the post from Miccoli’s lay-off.
The beleaguered hosts turned to damage limitation and managed to see out the rest of the game without conceding again. Eran Zahavi summed up Palermo’s evening when he saw his free shot on goal sail over the bar with five minutes remaining.
The victory sends Milan four points clear at the top, which could return to a single point should Juventus beat Chievo later on Saturday. Meanwhile Palermo, who occupy 8th position, could fall further away from the European places should other results go against them.