Hot on the heels of Kevin-Prince Boateng’s hat trick heroics at Lecce, midfielder Nocerino took his goal tally to four for the season, equalling his personal best for a single campaign, as Massimiliano Allegri’s side put to bed any lingering doubts over their ability to mount a sustained Scudetto defence.
Allegri made five changes to the side that started so poorly in Lecce at the weekend. In defence, Daniele Bonera, Thiago Silva and Taye Taiwo were brought in to replace Luca Antonini, Mario Yepes and Alessandro Nesta. In midfield, meanwhile, Marc Van Bommel was dropped in favour of Alberto Aquilani, while Boateng kept his place in the side at the expense of Robinho.
Parma coach Franco Colomba also elected to make changes to the side beaten at home by Atalanta on Sunday. At the back, Alessandro Lucarelli was replaced by Rolf Feltscher, in midfield, Francesco Valiani and Nwankwo Obiorah replaced Jonathan Biabiany and Abderrazzak Jadid, while up front, Jaime Valdes was drafted in to replace the injured Sergio Floccari.
In what was an open first half hour, the Rossoneri dominated possession without ever truly threatening the Parma defence. The excellent Sebastian Giovinco, meanwhile, was proving to be a constant menace for the Milan backline, but for all of his probing, the Gialloblu were clearly missing the physical presence of the absent Floccari up front.
The breakthrough for Milan came on the half hour mark, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s searching ball across the Parma box from the by-line found Nocerino, who capitalised on some scrappy defending to slot home from six yards out.
With Parma reeling, Nocerino doubled the home side’s advantage just two minutes later. Controlling a wayward defensive header with his chest, the midfielder struck a stunning left foot volley from fully thirty yards out past the despairing dive of Parma keeper Antonio Mirante, leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb.
The second half began as the first ended, with Milan utterly dominant in possession, and with Parma frequently wasting what little time on the ball they had. The introduction of Jonathan Biabiany just before the hour mark gave the Gialloblu some much needed attacking impetus, but the Rossoneri defence remained impenetrable.
Antonio Cassano wasted a glorious chance to extend Milan’s lead with twenty minutes remaining. Latching onto Ibrahimovic’s cut back, the Azzurri striker opted to take several touches when one would have sufficed, and fired high and wide from just six yards out. Thankfully for Cassano, his blushes were spared moments later, with Ibrahimovic sliding the ball past Mirante from close range having beaten the Parma offside trap.
With time running out, Giovinco smashed the ball through the legs of Abbiati for a deserved consolation, before Nocerino put the seal on his hat trick and Milan’s win in injury time, heading home Cassano’s looping cross from close range.
There is no doubt the Rossoneri will face greater challenges than that posed by Parma, not least when they travel to Roma this coming weekend. However, having leapt into fifth place with their third straight win, Allegri’s side are looking perfectly poised for another title push.
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