Milan, Italy, Dec 10 – Giacomo Bonaventura struck twice as AC Milan bounced back from last week’s embarrassing draw at Benevento by beating Bologna 2-1 on Sunday to give Gennaro Gattuso his first win as coach.
Midfielder Bonaventura opened the scoring early on before Simone Verdi’s leveller, but grabbed the winner 14 minutes from time.
It was a much-needed win for Gattuso after his reign began last weekend with Milan becoming the first team to fail to beat Benevento this season as goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli scored in injury-time, before a much-changed side were beaten at Croatians Rijeka in the Europa League.
Milan moved up to seventh in the Serie A table, but are still 11 points off the top four.
“It was important to win and we did it, we’re happy,” Bonaventura told Milan’s website.
“I struggled at the start of the year because I was not fit, but now I’m slowly starting to reach 100 percent.”
Bonaventura wasted little time in putting the hosts ahead at the San Siro, as he latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the area to slot past a wrong-footed Antonio Mirante in the Bologna goal.
Ninth-placed Bologna, who were level on points with Milan heading into the game, equalised midway through the first half as Verdi hammered a left-footed shot into the top corner.
But Bonaventura, who scored his first goal of the season last weekend at Benevento, got Gattuso off the mark by meeting Fabio Borini’s 76th-minute cross with a powerful downward header.
Earlier on Sunday, title hopefuls Napoli and Roma were both held to goalless draws by Fiorentina and Chievo respectively, leaving Inter Milan still ruling the roost at the top of the table.
Inter held six-time defending champions Juventus to a 0-0 stalemate on Saturday to stay one point clear of Napoli at the summit.
Juve are third, one point further adrift, with Roma five points off top spot but with a game in hand.
– Roma frustrated –
Roma were frustrated at Chievo, whose veteran goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino made several magnificent saves to deny the dominant away side.
Napoli surrendered first place to Inter after losing at home to Juve last time out, and Sunday’s was another uninspiring home display that did not live up to their reputation as Serie A’s most attractive side.
The draw comes after Wednesday’s dispiriting Champions League defeat at Feyenoord, which sent Napoli into the Europa League.
“We only have to worry when we don’t create chances, but now we are creating them,” coach Maurizio Sarri said.
“I was worried by Wednesday’s performance, not this one.
“It’s the kind of game where if you win 1-0, everyone says Napoli have found themselves again.”
Roma stayed in touch with the top three but can also be caught by local rivals Lazio, whose game with Torino in Rome on Monday is one of their two games in hand on the top three.
Chievo keeper Sorrentino blocked everything Roma threw at him, denying Patrik Schick and Gerson with a superb 24th-minute double save and making a string of other stops.
But the 38-year-old’s best moment came with seven minutes remaining when Schick, making his full Roma debut, bore down on goal looking for the winner.
The Czech ripped a shot that was sharply deflected, and Sorrentino, already diving one way, stuck out a leg to save what looked a certain goal and a point for his team.
“It was one-way traffic,” bemoaned Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
“We had opportunities in both the first and second half. We deserved a goal, but we didn’t score and that is our fault. We need to be more clinical in front of goal.”
Rock-bottom Benevento returned to losing ways with a 2-0 loss at Udinese, whose goals came from Antonin Barak and Kevin Lasagna.