MILAN, Italy :AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud produced a sparkling performance as they secured a commanding 3-1 Serie A victory at home to AS Roma on Sunday, thanks in large part to the Frenchman who scored one goal and created another.
The 37-year-old Giroud was in the perfect position to head in their second goal before his brilliant back-heel flick set up Theo Hernandez for the third.
Milan are third in the standings with 42 points, nine behind leaders Inter Milan, and four behind second-placed Juventus, who host Sassuolo on Tuesday. Roma are ninth with 29 points.
Milan have an eight-point lead over Fiorentina in fourth, after Vincenzo Italiano’s side secured a 2-2 draw at home against Udinese earlier on Sunday thanks to a late penalty from M’Bala Nzola.
“Clearly, at 2-1 anything can happen. We had wasted chances to get the third goal and were starting to feel tired, but we got there eventually,” Milan manager Stefano Pioli told DAZN.
Pioli was asked if Milan were still in the title race.
“No, take us out of that. We have to focus on ourselves and the objective is very clear, we did fairly well in the first half of the season and want to do better in the second half,” he replied.
“I don’t think 39 points was too bad a tally at the midway stage, but we’ve got to step on the gas now.”
Milan broke the deadlock after 11 minutes when Yacine Adli received the ball just outside the box, sidestepped his marker, and placed it into the bottom corner.
Giroud doubled the lead for the hosts after 56 minutes when a cross into the box found Simon Kjaer, who nodded the ball across for the Frenchman to head it in from point-blank range.
Roma struggled in the first half but improved after the break and Leandro Paredes converted a 69th-minute penalty following Davide Calabria’s trip on Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Yet the hosts secured their third goal when Giroud’s beautiful flick set up Hernandez inside the box and his powerful strike rattled the underside of the crossbar on its way into the net.