Lapadula brace lifts Milan to second
Gianluca Lapadula scored his first Serie A brace to help AC Milan thump Empoli 4-1 away on Saturday while Chievo were left fuming after their 2-1 defeat at Torino.
The win moved second-placed Milan, who are enjoying a revival this season under coach Vincenzo Montella, within four points of leaders Juventus who face an awkward trip to Genoa on Sunday.
Lapadula, signed in the close season after scoring 30 goals to help win Pescara promotion from Serie B last season, put the visitors ahead after 15 minutes.
The 26-year-old, who has spent his entire career in the lower divisions of the Italian league apart from a season with Gorica in Slovenia, turned in Suso's cross with a first-time shot after Empoli lost possession.
Empoli quickly equalised when Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma flapped at Massimo Maccarone's cross and the unmarked Riccardo Saponara blasted the ball in, ending a five-match scoreless run in home games for the Blues.
Milan appeared to be making heavy weather of the game until they floored Empoli with three goals in a 16-minute spell in the second half.
Suso side-footed in Ignazio Abate's cross in the 61st minute, Empoli defender Andrea Costa turned Lapadula's low cross into his own net and Lapadula himself scored the fourth with an angled drive.
Chievo coach Rolando Maran claimed that his side should have been awarded three penalties and that one of Torino's goals was offside after his team's defeat.
"This controversial situation has shaped the match," he said. "If the right decisions had been made, we would not have lost."
Chievo were especially unhappy when Sergio Pellisier's header hit Antonio Barreca's outstretched arm, although they were already two goals behind by then.
Iago Falque headed Torino ahead after 35 minutes and curled in the second three minutes later.
The Flying Donkeys -- who adopted the nickname after supporters of neighbours Verona claimed that donkeys would fly before Chievo got into Serie A -- pulled one back through a Roberto Inglese header with five minutes left.
They pushed hard for an equaliser but lost their heads when Fabrizio Cacciatore was sent off for dissent.