ROME, January 7 – David Beckham began his second loan spell with AC Milan on Wednesday in style as the rossoneri came from behind to beat Genoa 5-2 and leapfrog Juventus into second place in Serie A.
Beckham, who scored in the same fixture last season after being loaned out from LA Galaxy, looked hungry for action as he earned a starting place with fellow midfield veteran Clarence Seedorf out through injury.
The three points took AC Milan onto 34 points from 17 games – eight behind reigning champions Inter, who returned from their winter break with a 1-0 win over Chievo to maintain their eight-point lead – though Beckham and company have a game in hand.
Jose Mourinho’s Inter were deprived of a number of midfield stars, handing a rare start to wantaway French midfielder Patrick Vieira, reportedly bound for Manchester City.
But they still took the points courtesy of a 12th minute goal on the counter attack from striker Mario Balotelli.
It was not all good news for Inter, as their Romanian international defender Cristian Chivu fractured his skull in a clash of heads in the 46th minute while Balotelli was subjected to racist abuse.
Balotelli, born in Palermo but of Ghanaian heritage, is regularly subjected to such insults but this time spoke out.
"Every time I come to Verona I realise that the supporters disgust me more and more. It’s completely unacceptable," Balotelli told Sky Sports.
Juventus are third, a point behind AC Milan having played a game more, after winning 2-1 at Parma.
Midfielder Hasan Salihamidzic scored after just three minutes and an own-goal had them 2-0 up by the break.
The ‘Old Lady’ hung on for the three points despite having on-loan defender Martin Caceres sent-off in the second-half.
Juventus suffered an injury worry as French striker David Trezeguet went off with an apparent sprained ankle after being tackled by Parma’s veteran defender Christian Panucci in the 18th minute.
With Inter streaking clear the onus was on Milan – and the returning Beckham – to show their steel and, after a false start, they did just that, once they had recovered from Giuseppe Sculli’s shock opener – a stooping header past a flat-footed defence after 25 minutes.
Ten minutes earlier, Milan should have been ahead after Giuseppe Biava fouled Massimo Ambrosini but Ronaldinho placed his kick too close to Marco Amelia.
But the keeper then fouled Ambrosini for another spotkick.
This time Ronaldinho drilled the ball low inside the opposite corner as Amelia guessed wrong in going the same way as for the first kick.
Beckham then fired into the side netting as Milan began belatedly to force the pace.
And the pressure told as Thiago Silva fired them ahead in the 37th minute after Amelia was only able to parry Ambrosini’s initial vicious effort.
Two minutes after the restart it was 3-1, Ronaldinho sending through a cute pass to Luca Antonini, and he teed up Marco Borriello to clip home from close range.
Borriello then added icing to the cake with a spectacular overhead kick – though he appeared to have strayed marginally offside.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar thrashed home the fifth from yet another penalty after Marco Rossi had brought down the marauding Ronaldinho.
David Suazo fired in a late consolation for Genoa but that could not take the gloss off an emphatic Milanese win.
Napoli lie fourth on 30 points after a 2-0 victory over Atalanta while Roma will be kicking themselves after letting a 2-0 lead slip away at Cagliari with the home side scoring twice in time added on to force a 2-2 draw.
Roma are fifth on 29 points.