Massimiliano Allegri’s side claimed only their third win of the season courtesy of Valter Birsa’s22nd-minute strike. All Milan’s wins this season have came at home the three points edge them closer to the top five.
It was not an overly impressive performance by Milan. Without the injured Mario Balotelli, who is also doubtful for Tuesday night’s champions league match with Barcelona, Allegri resisted the temptation of hastening Kaka’s return from injury although the Brazilian did make a cameo appearance in the second half.
One of the few highlights for Milan was the play of 21-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel to the test. The rookie goalkeeper was not under a lot of pressure, but he did make a terrific save in the second half, getting his fingertips to Di Natale’s free-kick to get just enough of a touch to divert the ball onto the top of the crossbar.
Udinese had a great chance to get a point late on when Muriel failed to take the ball in his stride when presented with just Gabriel to beat, Ignazio Abate recovering to put the Udinese forward off as Milan held on for a morale-boosting win.
In the day’s only other game Catania surrendered an early lead at Cagliari. The visitors forged ahead in the fifth minute through Gonzalo Bergessio but Segundo Ibarbo equalised and then Catania’s Nicola Legrottaglie saw red as the momentum swung in Cagliari’s favour before the break. The hosts struggled to make the most of their numerical advantage until Mauricio Pinilla struck six minutes before the end to claim maximum points.