Football

Serie A: AC Milan Beat Fiorentina 2-1, Notch Up Sixth Consecutive Victory

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao scored second-half goals on either side of Alfred Duncan’s equaliser to consolidate AC Milan's second place in the Serie A table. There were tributes before kick-off to Fiorentina general manager Joe Barone, who had died following cardiac arrest on March 19

Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP
AC Milan’s Rafael Leao (left) was on target in the second half of their Serie A 2023-24 match against Fiorentina. Photo: Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP
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AC Milan extended their winning run to six matches with a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina on an emotional night at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. (More Football News)

There had been tributes before kick-off to Fiorentina general manager Joe Barone, who collapsed in the team hotel just as they were preparing to travel to the stadium for the match against Atalanta and later died in hospital.

The Rossoneri produced a clinical display with second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leao either side of Alfred Duncan’s equaliser to consolidate second place in the Serie A table.

Following a minute’s silence, AC Milan, without the suspended Theo Hernandez, made a positive start as Olivier Giroud forced Fiorentina keeper Pietro Terracciano into an early save after a driving run from Samuel Chukwueze.

Fiorentina – returning to action for the first time since their Europa Conference League tie against Maccabi Haifa on March 14 – continued to be pressed into some deep defending, with Rossoneri winger Leao a constant threat down the left.

Leao floated a cross over to the back post, where Chukwueze’s downward header was palmed away by Terracciano.

Photo: Massimo Paolone/LaPresse
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La Viola finally created an opening in the 26th minute when Andrea Belotti was played into the Milan penalty area but Mike Maignan stood up to make a smart save.

After Leao’s angled effort was stopped by Terracciano at the near post, Fiorentina again broke quickly with Belotti flashing a ball across the Milan six-yard box.

Terracciano saved from Leao after the forward spun in the right side of the area before Giroud blazed over as Milan pressed for the breakthrough ahead of half-time.

Milan took the lead two minutes into the second half.

Chukwueze sent Leao clear down the right and his improved backheel went across the six-yard box. Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic slipped over, which allowed the ball to fall to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who dug it out from under his feet to stab home a 10th goal of the season.

Fiorentina, though, were soon back on level terms in the 50th minute when Duncan clipped a fine finish into the far corner from the edge of the Milan penalty area.

In a hectic spell, Milan regained the lead in the 53rd minute when Tijjani Reijnders’ through pass saw Leao race clear past Milenkovic before calmly taking the ball around the onrushing Terracciano and knocking it into an empty net.

Milan full-back Alessandro Florenzi went close to a third when his fierce drive from the edge of the area was palmed clear by Terracciano at full stretch.

Rossoneri keeper Maignan was then called into action again to acrobatically push over a rising effort from Belotti and then tipped away a half-volley from Rolando Mandragora.

With 15 minutes left, Milan substitute Christian Pulisic saw his goal on the break disallowed for offside as Stefano Pioli’s side closed out a sixth straight win in all competitions.

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