AC Milan goes five points clear in Serie A with Empoli win

With second-placed champion Inter Milan not in action until Sunday, AC Milan raced into a 19th minute lead thanks to French defender Kalulu's arrowing strike into the bottom corner.

AC Milan's Pierre Kalulu (left) celebrates with Rafael Leao after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match against Empoli at the San Siro stadium in Milan on Saturday.   -  AP

AC Milan extended its lead at the top of Serie A to five points after Pierre Kalulu's first-half strike earned a 1-0 home win over Empoli on Saturday.

With second-placed champion Inter Milan not in action until Sunday, Milan raced into a 19th minute lead thanks to French defender Kalulu's arrowing strike into the bottom corner.

The host appeared nervy in the second period and struggled to create many more clear-cut openings as it looked to put the game to bed, with goalkeeper Mike Maignan forced into a fine save to preserve his side's lead.

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Milan nonetheless held on to secure a second successive 1-0 win and moved to 63 points from 29 matches, pulling clear of Inter, which plays Torino on Sunday. Empoli stays 13th on 32.

Stefano Pioli's side was not at its best but is now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, closing on a first Scudetto since 2011 - something the coach is trying to play down.

"Nine games (left) is a lot," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "Twenty-seven points (to play for) are a lot. All the top five are in with a chance of winning the title. We shouldn't look too far ahead. I will only talk about the title before the last day of the season.

"Our opponents have to play tomorrow, there are still games to catch up. I think it would be much more normal if everyone had played all the games, then it is clear what we need to do."

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