Balotelli rescues Milan to clinch vital win

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Valerio Pennicino/Getty ImagesMario Balotelli, right, helped put AC Milan in charge of their own destiny with his goal in the 84th minute.

On a day where the Serie A title was won in Turin, Milan took a big step towards securing their own Scudetto of sorts -- as Massimiliano Allegri described it in mid-week -- with a battling 1-0 win over Torino.

-Video: AC Milan 1-0 Torino (UK, Ireland)

Coupled with Fiorentina’s loss to Roma on Saturday night, the Rossoneri now have a four-point lead over their rivals for third place with just three games to go.

It was a struggle for the most part at San Siro on Sunday, with Milan unable to gain a consistent rhythm and pace to their build-up play. The absence of Riccardo Montolivo, also likely sit out the next two games with a thigh muscle problem, starved the midfield of genuine creative inspiration.

Montolivo, whose health issue emerged in training last week, is expected to miss games against Pescara and Roma. Having grown into a real leader of this Milan team, he has provided a solid platform with his creativity, industry and ability to pick a pass.

With the tactical setup revolving around him being the creative hub, his absence could yet have an impact on the race for Champions League football, but it is hoped Milan can continue to do enough to preserve their lead.

Antonio Nocerino and Mathieu Flamini did what was expected of them, while Sulley Muntari was handed the task of being the deeper-lying midfielder who would dictate play.

But collectively, it didn’t really convince and there could be some adjustments and improvements made ahead of the mid-week game against Pescara.

Although, just as it looked as though Milan would spurn the opportunity to increase their lead over Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentino side, Mario Balotelli stepped up to rescue them and clinch all three points with his goal in the 84th minute.

The Rossoneri have now scored 22 goals in the last 15 minutes of league games this season, the highest in Serie A. It is a testament to not only their fitness levels but also their desire and character.

On a frustrating afternoon at San Siro, at this stage the win and three points is the most important factor with individual impressive performances willingly sacrificed.

Christian Abbiati played a vital role with some key saves, while the winning goal again came with Giampaolo Pazzini and Balotelli playing alongside one another.

Super Mario recognised after the game that Milan always seem to score when the duo are on the pitch together. Considering Stephan El Shaarawy’s desperate lack of confidence, Allegri may well change the lineup to benefit all concerned. The game-winning hero also had a message of support for his coach after the game.

"When I got here Allegri was in charge and we get on really well. I hope he stays, as I’m really happy with him. If I were the club, I’d do everything to keep hold of him," he told Mediaset Premium.

Allegri quashed speculation he agreed a deal to take charge of Roma next season in his post-match interview. His primary focus will be to finish the job and seal third place.

What did you make of the performance on Sunday? Are you confident Milan can now go on secure third spot even without Montolivo?

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

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