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A late Rafael Leão goal was enough to see AC Milan extend their lead at the top of Serie A (SA) to five points after defeating a stubborn Fiorentina 1-0 at the San Siro.

AC Milan came into this knowing that a win would pile the pressure on Inter Milan, who kick-off a few hours later, by moving five points clear at the top, as well as extending their unbeaten league run to 13 games. Meanwhile, Fiorentina needed the points to keep pace with Roma for the last European spot and showed urgency from the start as they pushed the ‘Rossoneri’ back into their own half. Milan almost caught the visitors out on the break as Theo Hernández curled in a effort from just inside the box, but it was ruled out due to
Junior Messias straying offside in the build-up.

Uncharacteristically, the always calm Olivier Giroud missed a golden opportunity to give the hosts the lead. A slick through ball from Brahim Díaz put the French international in a one-on-one, but the forward flicked the ball just wide of the post. The rest of the half turned into a fiercely fought midfield battle between the two sides, but ultimately nothing could split them at the interval.

Minutes into the second half Leão had a perfect chance to give Milan the lead. A loose cut back pass in the box saw the ball land at his feet and the Portuguese attacker was able to cut back and open up for the shot, but fired over the bar when either side of a helpless Pietro Terracciano would have sufficed.

Milan continued to have control of the game, but ‘La Viola’ continued to stand strong and cancel out a lot of the hosts’ advances into their box. Muh like the first-half, the visitors almost caught Milan out with a quick counter. Arthur Cabral connected with a cross from six-yards out, forcing Mike Maignan into a fantastic save to keep things level. Just as things seemed to be drawing to a close, Leão capitalised on Terracciano sloppy pass, with the winger charging into the box and curling an effort to the far right of the Fiorentina goal.

Leão’s late heroics gives Milan a five point gap at the top of the table and takes the ‘Rossoneri’ a step closer to their first Scudetto since 2011. After all their hard work, it will no doubt be a frustrating result for the visitors, as they now wait to see if Roma will compound their misery by strengthening their grip on the final European spot.

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