Life as a player of AC Milan could not have started any better for in-form striker Krzysztof Piatek who continued his hot streak for the Serie A side with yet another goal in a 3-0 win over struggling Empoli at the San Siro in a league encounter on Friday night. It has been a sensational start to life at the San Siro for Piatek, who became the first Milan player to score in each of his first four top-flight starts in 21 years.
The last time a player achieved this feat with the Rossoneri was when Germany legend Oliver Bierhoff did so way back in 1998 – 21 years ago. Gennaro Gattuso’s men are really hitting some form under his guidance, and, while their focus will now switch to the Coppa Italia, third place in Serie A is certainly now within their grasp. The team occupying that position for now, city rival Inter Milan face Fiorentina on Sunday and a slip-up against the Viola could cost Luciano Spalletti’s side dear, with the Milan derby also on the horizon.
After a frustrating first-half performance, in which Lucas Paqueta had a goal ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee, Gattuso’s side put Empoli out of sight with two goals in as many minutes. Piatek got things started in the 49th minute, netting his seventh Milan goal in just his sixth appearance, moments after Rade Krunic wasted a gilt-edged chance at the other end. And Empoli’s misery was immediately compounded by Franck Kessie’s delicate chip, with Samu Castillejo’s deft finish adding further gloss as Milan moved to within one point of third-placed Inter.
Paqueta thought he had put the home side ahead with a close-range header 10 minutes in, only for VAR to disallow the goal for offside. Piatek then had a penalty claim dismissed soon after, before Castillejo forced Bartlomiej Dragowski into a pair of fine saves. Krunic struck wide from inside Milan’s area following the restart, but Piatek showed no such profligacy when he tucked home from Hakan Calhanoglu’s cut-back two minutes later.
Empoli’s hopes of a comeback were all-but ended from Milan’s next attack, Castillejo threading a neat pass into Kessie, who dinked a sublime finish over Dragowski. Castillejo turned from provider to scorer with a sharp prod from Andrea Conti’s cross, before substitute Fabio Borini had a late effort harshly cancelled out by VAR as Milan prepared for their Coppa Italia semi-final clash with SS Lazio in confident fashion.
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