Jeremy Menez at the double as AC Milan beat Cagliari

Jeremy Menez at the double as AC Milan beat Cagliari

French forward Jeremy Menez hit a brace including a controversial penalty as AC Milan broke a three-game winless run thanks to a 3-1 victory over Cagliari in a half-empty San Siro on Saturday.

Milan hosted Zdenek Zeman`s league strugglers looking to get back to winning ways following draws with Chievo and Verona and a 2-1 defeat away to Fiorentina last week.

And the pressure eased on embattled Rossoneri coach Filippo Inzaghi as Milan`s ninth win of the campaign moved them up to seventh place ahead of the remainder of the weekend fixtures.

"I`m happy for the team, we got less than we deserved from our performances against Verona and Fiorentina," said Inzaghi.

"I was confident that if we played the way we did at Fiorentina, we would be rewarded.

"Now, we hope to keep on like this."

Menez opened the scoring on 21 minutes when he controlled well on the left edge of the area before firing a great curling shot through the hands of Zeljko Brkic at the keeper`s far post.

Cagliari, who welcomed back Zeman two weeks ago following the sacking of Gianfranco Zola, levelled in fine style when Diego Farias dribbled around Philippe Mexes to fire across Diego Lopez and inside the Spanish keeper`s far post.

Mexes made up for his error only two minutes later when he met a corner on the edge of the box with a volley which bounced and travelled through Cagliari`s defence untouched before leaving Zeljko stranded.

Menez wrapped up the points 12 minutes from time when he beat the Cagliari keeper from the spot, although Alessio Cerci was clearly outside the area when he tumbled under a challenge from Luca Ceppitelli.

It was Menez`s 15th league goal of the campaign, taking the Frenchman level with Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi and Juventus marksman Carlos Tevez at the top of the Serie A scoring charts.

"All that mattered tonight was the three points," Menez told Mediaset Premium.

"We played well at Fiorentina as well, but this time we got the win. It`s nice to score and get an assist, but I prefer to win games.

"I want to dedicate the goas to our fans. We have to keep on playing like this so they keep coming to the stadium."

After seeing his side drop one place to second from bottom, Zeman hit out at the penalty decision.

"I`m disappointed about the penalty decision, it was decisive in our defeat," said the Czech veteran.

"There`s no point calling for the slow motion replay, we all saw it was outside the area and up until then we were still in the game."

Milan moved up three places to seventh but could drop back depending on results elsewhere on Sunday.

Juventus host Genoa boasting a 14-point lead on stuttering challengers Roma, who are in danger of being overtaken by city rivals Lazio, who sit in third only one point further adrift.

Roma are away to third-from-bottom Cesena while Lazio host Verona earlier Sunday.

Napoli, in fourth at three points behind Lazio, host Atalanta while Sampdoria and Fiorentina, one point further adrift in fifth and sixth, respectively host Inter Milan and travel to Udinese.

Earlier, Chievo earned a precious 1-0 win over Palermo to pull themselves 11 points clear of the drop zone.

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