AC Milan remain top of Serie A and two points ahead of bitter rivals Inter Milan after two Sandro Tonali goals and an Alessandro Florenzi strike ensured a 3-1 win away at Hellas Verona on Sunday which the hosts had led early.
Things could have started even better for Tonali and the Rossoneri with the midfielder denied the opening goal at Stadio Bentegodi via VAR after 17 minutes only for Igor Tudor’s home side to strike first through Davide Faraoni after 38 minutes.
Verona’s lead did not last long with Rafa Leao teeing up Tonali to level on the stroke of halftime before the same combination saw Stefano Pioli’s side take the lead just after the restart with only six minutes between the two goals.
Milan maintained their one-goal lead until the final five minutes when substitute Alessandro Florenzi made the result safe with a third from the visitors which keeps them two points clear of Inter with two fixtures remaining this season.
It was the second time in the last three outings that Tonali provided a key contribution with three goals from three games after his late winner secured vital points against SS Lazio recently and it underlines the Azzurri talent’s emergence as a key figure in his second season at San Siro.
The 22-year-old’s ability was known for some time before he joined Milan initially on loan from Brescia Calcio and then permanently last summer, but he has added goals to his repertoire this term and come up bog against the likes of Atalanta BC, Lazio and now Verona.
Those goals could prove crucial too as they do not concede ground to Inter before tricky games against Atalanta and Sassuolo to end the season with Pioli’s men now safe in the knowledge that a pair of wins will crown them champions regardless of their neighbors.
It was not all about Tonali, with Leao providing two more assists to take him to two goals and three assists from his last four Serie A outings with decisive contributions in three of them as he continues to mature and emerge as one of Milan’s key figures.
For a team with so much experience, it is many of the younger ones proving most influential with Mike Maignan regularly excelling and Theo Hernandez and Pierre Kalulu also contributing strongly as part of the French contingent.
Milan need more of the same at home to Atalanta and then away at Sassuolo while Inter have the comparatively easy tasks of Cagliari away and Sampdoria at home after a midweek Coppa Italia final against old foes Juventus.
However, the pressure is momentarily off once more thanks to Tonali and Leao’s double act and the home strait will now require more of the same determination as they seek to end their wait for a first Scudetto since 2011, which must feel that bit closer to their reach by now.