February 19, 2012

MILAN (AP) -- Sulley Muntari scored on his AC Milan debut to help send his new team to a 3-1 victory at struggling Cesena on Sunday, and back to the top of Serie A.

Muntari opened the scoring in the 29th minute and Urby Emanuelson doubled Milan's lead two minutes later. Robinho added a third 10 minutes into the second half.

Daniel Pudil grabbed a consolation for Cesena, which remains seven points adrift of safety after Siena lost 4-1 to Lecce in a relegation battle.

Milan is a point above Juventus, which has a game in hand and the pair meet in a mouthwatering clash next weekend.

"Up until 3-0 today the boys played a great game,'' Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Then we gave Cesena too much initiative and we sat back too much. We didn't push forward any more.

"I hope we have everyone available for Juventus but whoever plays will do well in any case. Now we have a week to prepare for that test, it will certainly be a fascinating game.''

Elsewhere, Roma captain Francesco Totti played his 700th game for the club to help it edge Parma 1-0, with Fabio Borini scoring the only goal.

Milan was in control throughout and the defending champion went in front when Thiago Silva whipped in a free kick that Francesco Antonioli failed to hold, allowing Muntari - who signed on loan from bitter rivals Inter Milan last month - the easiest of tap-ins.

The visitors doubled their lead two minutes later when Emanuelson toward the Cesena goal before unleashing a wicked effort that flew into the back of the net from the edge of the area.

It could have been more for Milan as Maxi Lopez hit the post but instead Cesena almost got back into the game seconds after the break when Adrian Mutu headed over the bar from close range with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Milan extended its advantage when Robinho latched onto Ignazio Abate's pass, raced into the area and slotted the ball into the far corner.

Cesena got one back in the 65th when Pudil drilled an effort into the bottom right corner from just outside the area.

Cesena slips to the bottom of Serie A after Novara, which started the day bottom of the table, drew 0-0 with Atalanta, in an entertaining match full of chances for both sides.

Novara midfielder Simone Pesce was sent off in stoppage time following a second yellow.

Lecce boosted its hopes of survival after coming back from a goal down. Cristiano Del Grosso put Siena in front when he lashed in Angelo's cross from six yards.

However, the lead lasted just seven minutes. Gianluca Pegolo did well to parry David Di Michele's fierce strike but could do nothing to prevent Luis Muriel's effort from flying into the bottom right corner.

Lecce was awarded a penalty midway through the second half after Muriel beat four men as he raced towards goal before he was brought down in the area by Alessandro Gazzi. Di Michele converted the penalty, drilling the ball into the bottom left corner.

Juan Cuadrado sealed the result with a solo effort eight minutes from time. He raced more than half the length of the pitch and beat several defenders before lofting the ball over Pegolo.

Davide Brivio added a fourth deep into stoppage time, curling a free kick in under the crossbar, three minutes after Manuele Blasi had needlessly got himself sent off after kicking out at Siena striker Mattia Destro.

In Rome, Totti was presented with a special plaque before kick off to commemorate his achievement. Fernando Gago raced down the right flank before picking out Borini, who sped into the area and fired into the far corner.

Roma could have extended its lead but were hindered by a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping by Antonio Mirante.

Elsewhere, Chievo Verona beat Genoa 1-0 thanks to Cyril Thereau's strike on the half-hour mark.

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