AC Milan's Croatian forward Ante Rebic has scored eight goals in his last nine league matches
Milan (AFP) - Ante Rebic and Hakan Calhanoglu scored late to give AC Milan a 2-0 victory over Roma on Sunday and dent the capital side’s Champions League ambitions.
Both teams struggled early in the stifling heat at the San Siro, with Roma’s Edin Dzeko heading wide and Calhanoglu nodding over the bar.
But Stefano Pioli’s Milan dominated after the break with Rebic breaking through on 76 minutes, rifling the ball into the roof of the net at the third attempt after a frantic scramble following a Davide Zappacosta blunder.
Calhanoglu converted a penalty with a minute to go after Chris Smalling fouled Theo Hernandez in the area.
Roma are fifth, six points behind Atalanta who occupy the final Champions League berth and play Udinese later Sunday.
Milan move up to seventh just below the definite Europa League berths after a second win this week, despite the absence of star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a calf problem.
“We were looking for a win against a strong opponent and we deserved to get it,” said Pioli after their first win over one of the top-six sides this season.
“This victory gives us confidence to try to hit the goal of bringing Milan back to Europe.
”(Ibra) helped us raise our level. Let’s not forget that we only lost one game with him.
“But the team is doing well without him and his return gives us other solutions.
“The changes we make will be very important because it’s very hot. It’s unthinkable to play with the same XI.”
Roma coach Paulo Fonseca conceded his side were struggling for fitness after the three-month coronavirus shutdown.
“They (Milan) were fresher in the second half,” said Fonseca. “Let’s not forget that they had seven days to prepare and it’s their third game, it’s not an excuse, it’s the truth.
“I’m worried about physical fitness, we will play in two days.
“Maintaining continuity is difficult when you change many players, but we’re ready and prepared to fight to the end.”
Third-placed Inter Milan play Parma later on Sunday looking to keep pace with leaders Juventus and second-placed Lazio.
Juventus beat Lecce 4-0 on Friday, and are four points ahead of Lazio, who came from behind to see off Fiorentina 2-1 on Saturday.