UDINE, Italy :A stoppage-time goal by striker Noah Okafor secured AC Milan a 3-2 win at lowly Udinese in Serie A on Saturday after the game was briefly suspended in the first half due to racist chants towards Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
Milan are third in the standings on 45 points from 21 games, six behind leaders Inter Milan and four adrift of second-placed Juventus, who both have a game in hand.
Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek gave Milan the lead with a low first-time shot inside the post shortly before the match was interrupted in the 33rd minute.
Maignan alerted the referee before leaving the pitch due to repeated racist chants from the local fans, as reported by Italian media, and was followed by his team mates to the tunnel.
“These things have nothing to do with football and they hurt, there is no such thing as black or white. We are all the same,” Okafor told DAZN.
The club and the league took to social media platform X, formerly Twitter, to express their disappointment.
“There is absolutely no place in our game for racism: we are appalled,” Milan said.
“Lega Serie A condemns any form of racism,” added the Italian league.
The game was restarted after less than 10 minutes and midfielder Lazar Samardzic levelled for the hosts before the break before Florian Thauvin put Udinese in front in the 62nd minute.
But Milan managed to snatch victory when substitute Luka Jovic netted on a rebound in the 83rd minute, following up after Olivier Giroud hit the bar, and Okafor made it 3-2 in stoppage time from close range.
“In the first half hour we played well, we could have scored a few more goals,” coach Stefano Pioli told a press conference.
“The (Maignan) episode then destabilised us a bit, but we recovered by returning to play our game and we managed to find the victory with great determination.”
The result saw Pioli enjoy his 100th Serie A win with Milan after 166 matches played.
He joined the narrow circle of four managers who previously had led the Rossoneri to 100 league wins: Carlo Ancelotti, Nereo Rocco, Fabio Capello and Nils Liedholm.
Milan next host seventh-placed Bologna on Jan. 27.
Udinese, who are 17th with 18 points, visit fifth-placed Atalanta on the same day.