Udinese should've been able to take advantage of a depleted Milan side. The rossoneri played host without Nigel De Jong and Philippe Mexes, both suspended, and Mario Balotelli, who found himself added to the club's long injury list just after his own return from suspension. Then came the news that Christian Abbiati was out, so 21 year old Gabriel got his Serie A debut in goal. But could the zebrette make anything of their advantage? Of course not.
It wasn't even a late in game, questionable penalty decision that saw all three points go Milan's way. Instead it was a goal from Valter Birsa who, in his last start against Sampdoria, also scored the game's only goal. The rossoneri hit on the counter, with Birsa latching on to a ball from Robinho. The Slovene's shot came from outside the area, curling into the top right corner.
Francesco Guidolin tried his best to fight back by changing up his side, bringing in Luis Muriel, who'd only arrived back from international duty with Colombia, for Dusan Basta in the 51st minute. Young Piotr Zieliński was brought on to replace Giampaolo Pinzi in hopes of fresh legs spurring an attack. Zieliński immediately set up Andrea Lazzari for an attempt on goal, but the shot was easily blocked.
It may not have been a pretty win, but once again, Massimiliano Allegri has bought himself some breathing room. The victory lifts Milan into seventh place, even on points with Lazio, who are at Atalanta on Sunday afternoon.
AC Milan: Gabriel; Abate, Silvestre, Zapata, Constant; Poli, Montolivo, Muntari (Nocerino 86); Birsa (Niang 68); Robinho, Matri (Kaká 77)
Goals: Birsa 22'