AC Milan continued their pursuit of Serie A leaders Inter on Saturday evening, with a 3-1 win over Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini and further reduced the chances of the hosts saving themselves from relegation.
First-half goals from Ante Rebic and Franck Kessie had put the Rossoneri in control, but after Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw red for dissent, a goal from Riccardo Gagliolo briefly provided hope of a Gialloblu comeback, until Rafael Leao scored in injury time.
With Scudetto-hunting Milan having won 12 of their 14 away fixtures this season, few expected an upset in Emilia-Romagna and it looked increasingly unlikely shortly after kick-off.
On six minutes, Kessie was allowed to stroll forward and test Luigi Sepe from long range, with the goalkeeper tipping over the crossbar, and the Rossoneri took the lead moments later.
Ibrahimovic controlled a high ball comfortably 20 yards from goal, slipped the ball between a couple of defenders to Rebic, who unleashed a powerful shot past the helpless Parma custodian.
Rather than spark the hosts into action, as they attempt to climb out of the relegation places, though, the Gialloblu seemed more concerned with holding a one-goal deficit than trying to find an equaliser, but that plan backfired just before the break.
With the Rossoneri largely playing within themselves, a neat passing move on 44 minutes allowed the visitors to work their way into the Parma box and Kessie shot low first-time past Sepe.
The Crociati began the restart with greater determination, though, and immediately forced goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into an impressive double save, with a Juraj Kucka header and Graziano Pelle volley.
Parma’s early dominance was then given another boost on 61 minutes when Ibrahimovic was shown a straight red card for dissent. Although there was little indication of what caused the striker’s obvious frustration and the Swede voiced little complaint as he left the pitch.
The hosts found a goal moments later. Pelle rose to head a deep cross to the back post towards the penalty spot and an onrushing Gagliolo swept the ball into the goal, despite the brave attempt from Donnarumma to block the effort.
However, despite a ten-man Milan side dropping deeper and deeper towards their own goal, the Crociati failed to break down Stefano Pioli’s side, who eventually broke away in injury time and scored a third through substitute Leao.
Until their hopes of a Serie A title are mathematically over, victories like these allow them to retain some belief that they can catch crosstown rivals Inter and at least help secure Champions League qualification, which will have been high on the list of objectives this term.