Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda hit a late winner in an inspirational performance for AC Milan on Sunday as the fallen Serie A giants continued their resurgence with a 2-1 win over Genoa.
Milan are bidding to secure a Champions League spot for the first time in three seasons and welcomed Genoa to the San Siro on the back of a run of six games without defeat.
Honda has enjoyed something of an individual resurgence of late and the attacking midfielder stung Mattia Perin’s gloves with a rasping shot that the ‘keeper palmed out of the top corner on four minutes.
From the resulting corner the ball was kept in play and it was Honda’s cross, flicked on by M’Baye Niang, that found Carlos Bacca unmarked at the back post to slam the ball past Mattia Perin after just five minutes.
It was Bacca’s 13th league goal of the campaign and took the Colombian joint second in the league scoring charts alongside Juve forward Paulo Dybala, who is 11 strikes behind runaway leader Gonzalo Higuain of Napoli.
Honda doubled Milan’s lead just after the hour with a superb strike from 20 yards, shortly after which Frenchman Jeremy Menez made his long-awaited return from injury when he replaced Niang.
Genoa striker Alessio Cerci, who moved to the club from Milan in the January transfer window, prompted even more jeers from the largely partisan crowd when he hit a late consolation for the visitors.
Milan remain in sixth place but are now only four points behind Roma in the first Champions League qualifying place.
Juventus went top of the table with a 1-0 home win over Napoli, who are second at one point behind and nine points ahead of Roma.
Fiorentina or Inter Milan can jump up to third place with a win in their late fixture on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse