In a vastly improved second-half performance, two goals ensured that the Rossoneri ended their poor form of late to replace Juventus at the summit of the leagueAC Milan came from behind to beat Udinese 2-1 at the Stadio Friuli to take a valuable three points which take them to the top of Serie A.
The Zebrette started well and took a first-half lead through Antonio Di Natale. However, a vastly improved second-half display saw the Rossoneri come back from the dead through late strikes from Maxi Lopez and Stephan El Shaarawy.
Udinese sat fairly deep from the off as they looked to catch Milan on the break, and Mauricio Isla saw his ambitious effort fly narrowly over the bar after just 15 minutes.
In the 19th minute Di Natale picked up the ball in the middle of the Milan half and played a give-and-go with Gelson Fernandes. It cut straight through the heart of Milan’s defence and the prolific striker’s effort deflected off of Thiago Silva and looped over Marco Amelia and into the net.
With Milan being overwhelmed in the midfield, the Zebrette missed a chance to enhance their lead with 10 minutes of the first half remaining. Isla sent in a lovely ball from the left and a confident Di Natale attempted to shoot first time but snatched at it, sending it back across goal and wide.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic absent due to suspension, the Milan attack lacked a focal point with Robinho and El Shaarawy up front. The Italian striker almost pounced on some lax defending in stoppage time but fired over the bar from close range.
The Rossoneri emerged a different side for the second half, but for all their improved creativity and motivation the equaliser remained elusive. Ignazio Abate and Clarence Seedorf both put in some great deliveries but there was no Milan player to add the finishing touch.
Pablo Armero was having a storming game and should have put Udinese two goals up as they worked their way back into the game. Di Natale’s through ball put the Colombian through one-on-one but Djamel Mesbah showed a great turn of pace to recover and steal the ball off his toe.
After substitute Maxi Lopez threw himself to the ground at the edge of the box, Udinese countered. Armero passed to Maurizio Domizzi who stabbed a tame effort at goal which Amelia turned behind. From the resultant corner Danilo forced the keeper into a great save.
The home side were made to rue their missed chances moments later when Samir Handanovic spilled El Shaarawy’s shot into the path of Maxi Lopez, who slotted into the open net.
Two minutes later El Shaarawy and Robinho were both denied after a defensive mix-up almost handed Milan the lead.
The Rossoneri completed their comeback with five minutes of normal time remaining when Maxi Lopez centred the ball from the right flank and El Shaarawy fired emphatically in at the near post.
The win means that Milan overtake Juventus and sit on top of the league, with the Old Lady out of action this weekend due to the snow-enforced postponement of their trip to Bologna. Udinese remain fourth but could see Inter close the gap between the two sides to just two points tomorrow when they host Novara.