Milan survived a spirited Genoa performance to secure a 2-0 victory that saw them leapfrog Roma and Lazio into the Serie A top four.
Genoa started the livelier in the opening exchanges, in what was a bizarre atmosphere at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, with the three o'clock kick-off meaning many supporters were unable to attend.
Christian Kouame forced Milan's Cristian Zapata to block an effort at goal after a mazy run, and in doing so overstretched, forcing the Colombian to be replaced by Andrea Conti in the 13th minute. Just after, Genoa almost got themselves in front as Davide Biraschi's curling effort was beyond the reach of Donnarumma, but narrowly over the bar.
Genoa continued to carve open opportunities with Milan twice having Donnarumma to thank for keeping them in the game. First, Darko Lazovic's fierce strike was brilliantly tipped over, before some neat passing around the Milan box resulted with former Inter player Goran Pandev feeding Daniel Bessa, but his close-range effort was straight at the Milan stopper.
Kouame and Lazovic both spurned opportunities to level as Genoa continued to dominate, however it was Milan who came closest to breaking the deadlock just before half time. Ervin Zukanović headed Fabio Borini's cross away as new signing Lucas Paquetá, making his Serie A debut, showed great technique to hit a volley that shaved the outside of the post.
Milan came out with more purpose in the second half, Borini drawing a decent save from Andrei Radu in the 55th minute as game increased in intensity. In a game that had everything except a goal, Radu went one better, brilliantly getting down low to tip Borini's goal bound strike around the post, despite the referee's failure to award a corner.
The chances continued to fall for both teams, with Paqueta and Bessa both wasting great opportunities for their respective sides. However, having had two attempts thwarted by Radu earlier, it was third time lucky for Borini who, on only his fourth start of the season, was presented with an easy finish from Conti's excellent cutback to finally grab the opening goal on 72 minutes.
The frantic nature of the game didn't end there, as Miguel Veloso's thunderous long range strike was superbly tipped onto the crossbar by Donnarumma moments after. The points were wrapped up in the 83rd minute though, as Cutrone's long ball released Suso on the break and, with the Spaniard's angle diminishing, he produced a fine finish across goal that went in off Radu's post. In the end, Milan held on for a crucial three points that sees them move into fourth place in Serie A, ahead of Roma and Lazio.
Key Talking Point
With the omission of Chelsea-bound Gonzalo Higuain, the question remained whether Milan could provide the necessary potency to break down Genoa's defence with 21-year-old Patrick Cutrone up front. They appear to have found their man in the shape of Genoa's own Krzysztof Piątek, who was absent today due to suspension.
They rode their luck in the first half, as the lack of a target man was evident with all Milan's forward play lacking cohesion and breaking down too easily.
Milan won the game, despite being second best for much of the match, but the ineffective Cutrone showcased the Rossoneri's need for a new striker. Whether Piatek is the right man to lead the Milan line will remain to be seen, but it's an area Gennaro Gattuso's men need strengthening in.
Starting XI: Donnarumma (8); Abate (7), Musacchio (7), Zapata (3), Rodriguez (6), Lucas Paqueta (8), Bakayoko (6), Calhanoglu (6), Suso (7), Cutrone (6), Borini (8)
Substitutes: Conti (7), Castillejo (N/A)
STAR MAN - Lucas Paqueta
The €35m signing from Flamengo was making his first Serie A appearance for the Rossoneri and it was fairly evident which country he heralded from. The Brazilian showcased an array of tricks and flicks, most notably a rainbow flick in the second half, as the 21-year-old looked to warrant his selection from the start. He wasn't without fault though, missing a great opportunity in the second half with a header.
WORST PLAYER - Patrick Cutrone
Much was made about Milan's decision to sign Piatek, and not giving an opportunity to 21-year-old Cutrone, however, with the deal not yet completed, it was the Italian who led the line on Monday. He was almost anonymous throughout the whole first half, unable to hold the ball up efficiently as most of Milan's play came down the wings.
He did provide a good long ball to Suso to score the visitor's second, but his lack of cutting edge won't have given Gennaro Gattuso much of a selection headache in the wake of Piatek's imminent arrival.
Next up for Milan they face tough back-to-back matches against Napoli, first hosting their Serie A rivals in the league on Saturday, before hosting them again three days later in the first leg of their Coppa Italia quarter final.
Genoa, meanwhile, travel to fellow strugglers Empoli in Serie A on Monday before hosting Sassuolo.