On November 11, 2012, AC Milan was humbled 3-1 at home to Fiorentina and slumped to 13th place in Serie A, a full 12 points behind third-placed Napoli. It was just about keeping its head above water in the Champions League, with a draw against Malaga having put it within one win of progression to the last 16, but Massimiliano Allegri was under huge pressure to turn things around, and quickly.
Fourteen weeks on, Milan set itself up for Wednesday’s visit of Barcelona by reaching the top three for the first time this season with a 2-1 win over Parma on Friday night. For a side which was struggling so badly so recently, it has been quite the turnaround. Sure, other results this weekend could see it slip back down to fifth by the time the Blaugrana arrive in town, but the very fact it is sitting in a Champions League spot right now deserves huge credit.
Mario Balotelli was once again the match winner. For the third straight game since he first donned his beloved red and black stripes, the Italy striker found the scoresheet, and it was the second successive home match in which he struck the winner. His dipping, curling free kick over the Parma wall and beyond the dive of Nicola Pavarini was worthy of any highlight reel, with Nicola Sansone’s injury-time goal making it a doubly important strike.
Now Milan just has to show it can continue its rise without Balotelli. Since the controversial frontman’s arrival from Manchester City, no other Milan player has found the net, but it must also be remembered that the Rossoneri renaissance started long before his January transfer.
|MATCH FACTS | Milan 2-1 Parma |