AC Milan vs. Parma, Final Score 2-1: Balotelli nets again with Parma brushed aside

Claudio Villa

Mario Balotelli curled in a free-kick to score his fourth goal in three games for Milan, with Parma coach and rossoneri legend Roberto Donadoni given no homecoming present.

After a dodgy first half AC Milan bossed the second, and have jumped above rivals Inter Milan and Lazio to third in the league. No matter what happens in the other games this weekend, Parma will hold onto tenth place. But, that will provide little comfort for the gialloblu, who haven't won in their last six.

The first chance of the match fell to Mario Balotelli in the opening three minutes, after he was slipped though by Kévin Constant. From the edge of the area, Balo could only brush the ball wide of Nicola Pavarini's far post.

Parma weren't rattled, and controlled the ball excellently throughout the half. Their best chance turned out to be their first one, with centre-back Gabriel Paletta wriggling through into the area, though he dragged his shot, missing the target from close range.

Amauri used the only useful part of his body for Parma's next chance after 25 minutes, heading a corner on target. But, his effort was comfortably held by Christian Abbiati, diving to his right.

Despite facing a side boasting one of the highest average possession statistics in Serie A, the crociati continued to take the game to their opponents, with the rossoneri looking most threatening on the counter-attack. Balotelli was his usual enigmatic self, drifting out of the game before snapping back into it excellently.

He played an outstanding pass for Kevin-Prince Boateng just after the half-hour, though the Ghanaian's cross-shot went wide of the post from the left side of the box. KPB was lively in attack, springing up all over the field. Unfortunately he'd left his shooting boots at home, and his low effort from the edge of the area was comfortably held by Pavarini ten minutes before the break.

Despite their possession, Parma struggled to create from open play, and were punished with five minutes of the half remaining. Boateng's low cross was slid behind by Paletta -- unfortunately into his own goal. It was a rare error from the defender, handing Milan a fortunate half time lead.

But, they started the second half in a much better fashion than they had played much of the first. Boateng almost doubled the lead after prodding a drilled Balotelli cross towards goal, though it skimmed the post on its way wide.

Parma looked increasingly defensively vulnerable, with their offside trap falling to pieces. Veteran keeper Nicola Pavarini was called into sweeper duties on a couple of occasions, with his side struggling to push out of their own half.

Eventually, with little over ten minutes remaining, Milan had their deserved second. Fittingly, it came courtesy of the man who so much of Milan's offensive play had come through. Super Mario stepped up to curl a free-kick beyond Pavarini with total aplomb, as his Serie A scoring streak went on.

Riccardo Montolivo's long-range attempt inside the final couple of minutes was clawed away by Pavarini, before Balotelli's near post attempt was smothered by the Parma keeper. The gialloblu did score a consolation in the final 30 seconds after Nicola Sansone converted Biabiany's low cross, though it was too little, too late after a half which was dominated by the hosts.

AC Milan (4-3-3): Christian Abbiati; Kévin Constant, Mario Yepes, Cristián Zapata, Mattia De Sciglio; Sulley Muntari, Riccardo Montolivo, Antonio Nocerino; Kevin-Prince Boateng (Bojan 65), Mario Balotelli, Mbaye Niang (Bakaye Traoré 87)

Parma (4-3-3): Nicola Pavarini; Djamel Mesbah, Gabriel Paletta, Andrea Coda (Yohan Benalouane 66), Aleandro Rosi; Marco Parolo (Sotiris Ninis 56), Jaime Valdés, Marco Marchionni; Nicola Sansone, Amauri (Ishak Belfodil 72), Jonathan Biabiany

Goals: Paletta o.g. 39 (M) Balotelli 78 (M) Sansone 93 (P)

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