Milan down Fiorentina to keep Napoli at bay

Rome: AC Milan earned a crucial 2-1 win at Fiorentina to maintain their three point lead over Napoli, 2-0 winners at Bologna, at the top of Serie A.

Napoli had put the pressure on Milan with their victory earlier yesterday but goals from Clarence Seedorf and Pato before half-time ensured Milan always had their destiny in their own hands before Juan Vargas`s late reply.

With just six games left, Massimiliano Allegri`s team are one step closer to a first title since 2004.

"We`re thinking about winning every match, not just this one," Pato told reporters.

"We`re all happy, we got three important points but now we have to forget it, look at what we did wrong and go forwards."

However, the returning Zlatan Ibrahimovic, having served a two-game ban, stupidly got himself sent off late on and will again be suspended.

Milan were always in control and after Artur Boruc had saved an early shot from Seedorf, the Dutchman gave the visitors an eighth minute lead.

Ibrahimovic tried to play him in but a covering defender half cleared only for Pato to head the ball back into the danger zone where Seedorf had been left free to volley home majestically.

Pato spurned a one-on-one with Boruc moments later while up the other end Christian Abbiati had to be alert to save an Adem Ljajic shot at his near post.

But four minutes from the break, Milan hit La Viola with a rapier counter-attack as Ibrahimovic released Kevin-Prince Boateng down the right and he crossed for Pato to have the simplest of finishes.

Already it appeared to be game over but it could have been worse for Fiorentina as Ibrahimovic slotted wide when bearing down on Boruc.

However, 11 minutes from time Vargas`s shot from 25 yards deflected off substitute Gennaro Gattuso and beat Abbiati.

And Milan had a nervous last few minutes when Ibrahimovic got himself a straight red card for saying something to the linesman meaning another suspension.

Earlier in the day Napoli had made light of the absence of top scorer Edinson Cavani as Giuseppe Mascara and a Marek Hamsik penalty secured three points.