Serie A: Pescara 0 Milan 4
By Football News
Mario Balotelli netted two goals as Milan eased to a comfortable 4-0 victory against relegated Pescara on Wednesday.
The Italian striker grabbed the winning goal against Torino last time out and scored another important effort to put Milan ahead from the penalty spot in the 10th minute.
Pescara's relegation to Serie B was confirmed last Sunday with a 4-1 defeat to Genoa and the visitors were ruthless as Sulley Muntari and Mathieu Flamini added to Balotelli's double to tighten Milan's grip on third place.
Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri was without Kevin Prince-Boateng due to suspension and the injured Riccardo Montolivo and Bojan Krkic.
Meanwhile, Christian Bucchi had a lengthy injury list to contend with and a number of key players are out for the rest of the season, including goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli and forward Gianluca Capriari.
Balotelli should have put Milan ahead inside of five minutes, but the Italy international volleyed against the crossbar from six yards out when a simple tap-in would have been enough.
Balotelli was given the opportunity to redeem himself minutes later though when Uros Cosic brought down Antonio Nocerino inside the Pescara box.
The 22-year-old sent goalkeeper Mattia Perin the wrong way with one of his trademark spot-kicks to claim his 10th league goal of the season.
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure during the opening exchanges and Robinho and M'Baye Niang both threatened going forward, with the latter dragging a good chance wide of the post.
Milan dominated possession and faced little pressure from the hosts, who did not threaten Christian Abbiati's goal until the 25th minute when Giuseppe Sculli headed on target.
Allegri's side pressed home their dominance with a second goal in the 33rd minute courtesy of Muntari.
The Ghana international drifted into the box completely unmarked to meet Robinho's pinpoint free-kick from the right with a thumping first-time volley.
Milan continued to control proceedings after the restart and Flamini gave his side a comfortable three-goal lead in the 50th minute.
Robinho took hold of possession on the left wing and picked out the former Arsenal man with a pinpoint pass for him to score his fourth goal in five outings.
Flamini then turned provider as he found Balotelli in front of goal and the ex-Manchester City striker turned two defenders before firing into the roof of the net.
With the points secured, Allegri brought on Bakaye Traore and Giampaolo Pazzini to keep his players fresh ahead of Sunday's meeting with Roma at San Siro. The latter should have added his name to the score-sheet 20 minutes from time, following a clever chipped cross from Balotelli, but Pazzini shot too close to Perin from a tight angle.
Stephan El Shaarawy was a surprise inclusion on the bench and was keen to add to his 16 league goals after replacing Robinho in the closing stages. However, Milan eased off in the final 15 minutes and saw out the game to claim another vital win in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification, which they will secure with three points from their final two fixtures.