AC Milan held on for a 1-0 win at Chievo Verona on Tuesday to end a four-match winless streak and go top of Serie A, although the defending champions were far from dominant.
Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari scored eight minutes in at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi with a long-range shot that appeared to surprise Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino.
Chievo created several chances, but they could not finish, even with Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati slowed by a foot injury.
Milan moved two points clear of Juventus, who were scheduled to host third-placed SS Lazio yesterday.
“If we hadn’t won, we could have definitively dropped out of the title race,” Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri said. “We didn’t play well, but we played with heart and determination, and we got the result.”
Chievo remain ninth, 25 points back.
“It’s important to keep the pressure up on Juventus. Chievo are having a good season and it was a difficult match,” said Milan defender Mario Yepes, who formerly played for Chievo.
“Now we can watch tomorrow, but we’ve got to win all of our remaining matches.”
Milan had slumped to a 1-1 draw with Catania and a 2-1 loss at home to Fiorentina in their last two league matches, and split those with a defeat to Barcelona that eliminated them from the Champions League.
In driving rain, Milan quickly got back on track with Muntari’s goal, but then settled back to defend their lead.
AC Milan next host Genoa at the San Siro on Saturday.