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AC Milan take five-point in Serie A

AC Milan have taken another significant step toward their first Serie A title since 2011 by grinding out a 1-0 win at home to Empoli.

Victory sent Milan five points clear of defending champion Inter Milan in second place and six clear of third-placed Napoli, with both teams not playing until the following day.

Juventus remained seven points behind Milan after winning 3-1 at relegation-threatened Sampdoria.

Milan were boosted by a recent win over title rival Napoli. Olivier Giroud had scored the only goal in that game and he also had a role in the Rossoneri’s sole goal against midtable Empoli.

Empoli failed to clear Giroud’s free kick and it came to fellow Frenchman Pierre Kalulu, who curled the ball into the bottom left corner in the 19th minute for the defender’s second-ever goal for Milan.

Giroud almost got onto the scoresheet himself on the stroke of halftime but his header was palmed off the line by Guglielmo Vicario, and Franck Kessie’s volley was charged down in the area.

Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan made a couple of crucial saves in the second half.

Alvaro Morata scored twice as Juventus kept their reignited title hopes alive.

Sampdoria defender Maya Yoshida also scored an own goal while Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a penalty.

Juventus remained fourth .

It was Juve’s 15th league match without defeat, a run stretching back to November. Sampdoria remained four points above the bottom three.

Spezia boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation by beating fellow strugglers Cagliari 2-0.

Martin Erlic and Rey Manaj scored to snap a run of four straight defeats for Spezia and send them seven points clear of the bottom three although 18th-place Venezia has played two fewer matches. Cagliari are three points above the drop zone.

Bottom club Salernitana snatched a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo, which played for more than half an hour with 10 men.

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