Milan vs Torino, final score 1-0: Rossoneri move nearer to Champions League play

Claudio Villa

It took nearly the full 90 minutes, but in the end, Mario Balotelli found the back of the net, giving the rossoneri all three points. After Fiorentina's loss to Roma on Saturday, Milan have a four point lead in third place.

It looked as though the match between Milan and Torino would end in a goalless draw. The rossoneri clearly missed Riccardo Montolivo as their midfield creator, and with the front three playing like they'd never been introduced, the attacks seemed incoherent and indirect. Toro had fewer shots, but they put plenty of pressure on Milan in the first half, and were quite unlucky to not be rewarded with a goal.

But in the second half, Giampiero Ventura chose the cautious route -- perhaps sensing that the granata weren't, in fact, safe from the drop zone. He'd already sent his side out in a conservative 5-3-2, but after the restart, Toro spent the majority of their time sitting back, utterly uninterested in attack. Their one decent chance came around the 65th minute, when Paulo Barreto had his second one-on-one with Christian Abbiati. Again, the Milan keeper performed a fantastic save to deny the Brazilian his goal.

Of course, Milan, desperate to extend their lead over Fiorentina, ultimately made Toro regret their game plan. In the 85th minute, the cross came in from Antonio Nocerino. At the far post, Philippe Mexes rose up to meet it, heading it on to the feet of Mario Balotelli. It was a simple toe-poke for the forward, but possibly the most important goal he's scored this season -- if these are the points that get Milan into the Champions League.

AC Milan: Christian Abbiati; Ignazio Abate, Cristian Zapata, Philippe Mexes, Kevin Constant; Mathieu Flamini, Sully Muntari, Antonio Nocerino; Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy

Torino: Jean-Francois Gillet; Matteo Darmian, Valerio Di Cesare, Guillermo Rodríguez, Angelo Ogbonna, Salvatore Masiello; Migjen Basha, Giuseppe Vives, Matteo Brighi; Alessio Cerci, Paulo Barreto

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