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Juraj Kucka and M’Baye Niang struck either side of half-time and Carlos Bacca added a flukey third as AC Milan moved up to third in Serie A with a 3-1 win at Chievo on Sunday.
Chievo had been among the early season pacesetters in Italy’s top flight, Rolando Maran’s men sitting among the top five after starting their campaign with a 2-0 home win over Inter Milan.
But the Flying Donkeys were brought back to earth with a bump with a first home defeat of the season that, for seven-time European champion Milan, revived ambitions of qualifying for continental football next season.
Milan’s fifth win of the campaign moved it up to third, behind Roma on goal difference, five points behind leader and champion Juventus and two ahead of Napoli.
Montella left Colombian striker Carlos Bacca on the bench for the trip to Verona to give up and coming Gianluca Lapadula his chance.
On their feet
But it was a 45th minute screamer from Kucka that had the visiting Rossoneri fans on their feet after the Slovakia midfielder pulled the trigger from just outside the area.
Niang added a second for the visitor immediately after the restart when he was sent through the middle to beat Stefano Sorrentino at his far post.
Milan should have added more but Niang and Lapadula were wasteful in front of goal, before Chievo chalked one back thanks to former Milan midfielder Valter Birsa’s 76th minute consolation.
Bacca came on for Niang in the final two minutes and twisted and turned his way through the Chievo defence before deciding to strike the ball with no apparent intent.
Villarreal blanks Celta Vigo
Villarreal’s unbeaten start continued with a 5-0 thrashing of Celta Vigo in La Liga on Sunday whilst Athletic Bilbao’s 3-2 win over Real Sociedad in the Basque derby means the top six are separated by just three points.
Cesare Prandelli is Valencia’s fourth coach in under a year, but got an instant response as Suarez finished off a fine team move to open the scoring after just seven minutes.
The former Italy boss signalled his priority is improving Valencia’s defence, but it is still to keep a clean sheet this season as Carlos Castro headed home unmarked just before half-time.
However, former Atletico Madrid midfielder Suarez, who scored just five goals in nearly 200 games with Los Rojiblancos, was the unlikely Valencia hero once more when he coolly chested down a loose ball inside the area before smashing into the roof of the net 25 minutes from time.
Villarreal moved level with Barcelona in fifth, two points off the top, with a surprising demolition of Celta at El Madrigal.
Roberto Soriano struck twice in the opening 12 minutes before Cedric Bakambu gave Villarreal a 3-0 half-time lead.
Celta’s evening to forget was compounded by Daniel Wass’ own goal and a red card for Sergi Gomez before Manu Trigueros rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.
Serie A: Chievo 1 (Birsa 76) lost to AC Milan 3 (Kucka 45, Niang 46, Bacca 90+4).
La Liga: Sporting Gijon 1 (Castro 40) lost to Valencia 2 (Mario Suarez 7, 65); Villarreal 5 (Soriano 8, 12, Bakambu 38, Wass 48-og, Trigueros 90+1) bt Celta Vigo 0.