Ten-man Milan hold on for win at Genoa -- Barca next

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Despite being reduced to 10 men for the last 25 minutes, Milan secured a 2-0 win at Genoa on Friday night, with goals from Giampaolo Pazzini and his replacement, Mario Balotelli. The three points consolidate third place for the Rossoneri ahead of the weekend's remaining fixtures, shifting the pressure on to their rivals.

It was a particularly miserable evening at the Marassi, with both the weather and pitch doing little to help the teams. However, as has become a trademark of this Milan side, they found a way to get the result in difficult conditions and continued their domestic progression.

-- Match report: Genoa 0-2 AC Milan

In what turned out to be his last act of the game, Pazzini opened the scoring with a superb strike midway through the first half as he maintained his goal-scoring form. Before the goal, Pazzini was fouled by Daniele Portanova. Pazzini played on with a limp, and scored in the 22nd minute before the Balotelli substitution could be carried out.

Massimiliano Allegri will now be hoping that Pazzzini's injury (which the manager described as a bruise below the knee) isn't serious, along with with that of Philippe Mexes, who was forced off at half-time. Both are expected to play a vital role on Tuesday night in Barcelona.

His replacement sealed the win for the Rossoneri, with Balotelli scoring his fifth goal in five games for Milan despite being largely anonymous during his time on the pitch. Balotelli scored in the 60th minute; five minutes later, Kevin Constant was sent off for his second yellow card.

Friday's victory made it seven wins in the last 10 games for Milan, as they move just two points behind Napoli -- albeit with the Partenopei having a game in hand -- and four points ahead of Inter and Lazio.

Perhaps it's stretching it a little too far by acknowledging that Allegri’s men are now just eight points behind Juventus. But it is still a great testament to the progress he and the players have made to close a gap that almost reached 20 points.

"Genoa are always a tough team, we had to be focused tonight, and we were," Cristian Zapata told reporters after the game. "We are aiming for second place now. If we work together we can get Napoli."

It is difficult to find a reason to disagree with Zapata, who had another solid game, considering the run that Milan are currently on and Napoli's stuttering form, which has seen them draw their last four league games.

There will, of course, be more difficult tests to come, especially over the three-week period next month which sees Allegri and Co. face Fiorentina, Napoli and Juventus on consecutive weekends.

However, at this point it might perhaps be wise to take one game at a time, starting on Tuesday night where Milan will hope to finish the job against Barcelona to seal their place in the Champions League quarterfinals. Milan beat Barca 2-0 in the first leg Feb. 20.

Milan finish the month with a home clash against Palermo before visiting Chievo, and, based on how they continuously find a way to break down the 'smaller' provincial sides, they will be confident of extending their impressive league form further.

The key now will be for the game against Barcelona, whatever the outcome, to not have an effect on their domestic form and ruin what is a simply sensational run of results.

With Allegri making the right decisions and the players looking increasingly confident and comfortable, it's now time for Barcelona!

Who was your man of the match against Genoa? Do you agree with Zapata -- can Milan catch Napoli and seal second place?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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