Hakan Calhanoglu and Theo Hernandez scored as AC Milan climbed back up to second with a crucial victory over Benevento.
Having suffered back-to-back defeats and subsequently dropping out of the top four for the first time this season, the pressure was on Stefano Pioli's side to turn the tide.
They made the perfect start as Calhanoglu scored after just six minutes following a clever dummy by Franck Kessie.
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Having spent a spell on the sidelines, Zlatan Ibrahimovic almost marked his return to action with a goal but was repelled by Lorenzo Montipo on three separate occasions as the visiting shot-stopper almost single-handedly kept his side in the game.
Milan finally put daylight between the teams on the hour-mark. Ibrahimovic was once again denied by Montipo but this time he could only parry it into the path of Theo Hernandez, who was left with the easiest of finishes.
Benevento had their moments, with substitute Roberto Insigne going closest, but ultimately Milan had too much quality.
The victory sees Milan climb above Juventus, Napoli and Atalanta into second. However, all of their rivals have yet to play this weekend.

Theo Hernandez (R) of AC Milan celebrates after scoring a goal during the Serie A football match between AC Milan and Benevento Calcio. AC Milan won 2-0 over Benevento Calcio.

Image credit: Getty Images

TALKING POINT - Milan can't hide nerves with win

If the speculation is to be believed, Pioli will lose his job if AC Milan fail to make the Champions League. Therefore, every match until the end of the season is absolutely crucial for the Rossoneri boss. The club overachieved in the first half of the season as they looked to mount an unlikely title bid, but they have fallen way short this calendar year and the boss may pay a high price if they don't make the top-four.
It was obvious in the way Milan performed that there is a lot at stake. Despite taking an early advantage, the hosts couldn't build the lead they would have wanted, and the likes of Ibrahimovic couldn't hide his frustration, throwing his arms up and arguing with team mates. Ismael Bennacer was fortunate not to be sent off before he was hooked at half-time.
And although Milan ultimately emerged victorious, there are many more difficult tasks ahead - a trip to Juventus follows next.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Hakan Calhanoglu (Milan)

He has popped up with some important goals this season and his early breakthrough helped Milan on their way to victory.

PLAYER RATINGS

AC Milan: Donnarumma 6, Dalot 7, Tomori 6, Romagnoli 6, Theo Hernandez 7, Bennacer 5, Kessie 7, Saelemaekers 6, Calhanoglu 8, Leao 5, Ibrahimovic 7.. subs: Diaz N/A, Calabria 5, Rebic 5, Castillejo 5, Tonali 6.
Benevento: Montipo 7, Depaoli 5, Caldirola 5, Glik 5, Barba 5, Dabo 6, Viola 5, Ionita 5, Iago Falque 5, Improta 5, Lapadula 6.. subs: Gaich 5, Caprari 5, Tello N/A.

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KEY MOMENTS

6' - GOAL! AC Milan 1-0 Benevento (Hakan Calhanoglu): The deadlock is broken! Kessie feeds Saelemaekers and continues his run, the latter lets the exchange pass run and Calhanoglu makes no mistake, slotting it past the visiting shot stopper.
45'+3 - Ibrahmovic is denied! A great chance for the Swede as he gets in behind the visiting defence but can't beat Montipo as the Benevento goalkeeper saves with his foot!
47' - Another chance for Ibrahimovic! Having been denied by Montipo's left foot in the first half, Ibrahimovic now sees his powerful effort saved by the Benevento's right foot immediately after the restart.
60' - GOAL! AC Milan 2-0 Benevento (Theo Hernandez): Ibrahimovic is repelled by Montipo for what feels like the 100th time this evening, but this time the visiting shot-stopper can only parry the shot into the path of Theo Hernandez, who is left with the easiest of finishes.

KEY STAT

Hakan Calhanoglu is the fourth Turkish player able to score 50 goals in the top five European leagues since 1/1/2000, after Mevlüt Erdinç (92), Nihat Kahveci (76) and Halil Altintop (67).
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