(Reuters) – Two goals by AC Milan midfielder Brahim Diaz helped the hosts ease to a comfortable 4-1 win over promoted Serie A side Monza at San Siro on Saturday as they moved up to second place.
Milan are level on 26 points with leaders Napoli and two points ahead of third-placed Atalanta, who both have a game in hand. Atalanta host Lazio on Sunday before Napoli visit AS Roma.
Brahim opened the scoring in the 16th minute when he received the ball near the centre of the pitch and made a solo run towards Monza goalkeeper Michele Di Gregorio’s goal before firing a low shot into the bottom right corner.
Monza had two chances to level before the half-hour mark but Milan goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu first kept out a powerful shot from distance by midfielder Stefano Sensi and then did well to save a diving header from Carlos Augusto.
Shortly afterwards Milan could have had a two-goal advantage but forward Divock Origi could only find the side-netting with a shot from inside the box.
The Belgian, however, made up for his failed attempt by setting Brahim Diaz up with a neat pass inside the box for the Spaniard to double Milan’s lead in the 41st minute.
Brahim could have added an assist to his brace just after the break when he delivered a nice pass to Ante Rebic inside the box but Monza’s Di Gregorio managed to deny the Croatia winger.
Origi made it 3-0 in the 65th when he made space on the edge of the box and sent a powerful shot into the top right corner five minutes before Monza’s Filippo Ranocchia pulled a goal back with a superb free kick after Origi’s foul on Matteo Pessina.
Encouraged by their late goal, the visitors showed more courage approaching Milan’s goal in the last 20 minutes but Milan forward Rafael Leao dashed their hopes when he sealed the win in the 84th with a fine strike inside the left post.
Milan next visit Torino on Oct. 30 while Monza, who remain 14th on 10 points from 11 games, host Bologna the day after.
(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)