Milan, Dec 18: AC Milan moved provisionally top of the Serie A standings with a 2-0 win over Siena on Saturday, which leaves the Tuscan side even more in danger at the foot of the table.
Antonio Nocerino scored his sixth of the season to give Milan the lead and Zlatan Ibrahimovic doubled the tally from the spot.
Milan moved a point clear of Udinese and Juventus, which play on Sunday. Siena remains two points above the relegation zone after five defeats in six games.
In a dramatic finish in Florence, two late goals from German Denis and Andrea Masiello appeared to have given Atalanta victory over Fiorentina, but Stevan Jovetic leveled to secure a 2-2 draw.
Elsewhere, Chievo got back to winning ways as goals from Cyril Thereau and Gennaro Sardo secured a 2-0 victory over Cagliari.
“We knew it could be a difficult game,” Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “We started well and then we got a bit tired. We were patient but we also risked conceding.
“Today was an important victory even if we didn't play a very good match.”
Milan almost took the lead in stunning fashion in the 15th minute. Mark van Bommel crossed to Ibrahimovic, who controlled the ball with his right foot and then hit it on the volley with his left but his effort flew just over the crossbar.
Shortly afterward Kevin-Prince Boateng struck a powerful left-footed shot which Siena goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic did brilliantly to parry.
Siena should have scored in the 23rd when Franco Brienza sent Francesco Bolzoni clear through and his shot beat onrushing Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia but went just wide of the right post.
Milan broke the deadlock in the 54th when a corner fell to Robinho, who passed out to Nocerino on the edge of the area and the Italy striker's deflected shot flew into the bottom right corner.
Milan was awarded a soft penalty shortly after the hour mark when Brkic was adjudged to have brought down Boateng, who appeared to take a theatrical dive when Brkic tried to move out of the Milan midfielder's way as he nudged the ball past him.
“It seemed to me to be a penalty,” Allegri said.
Ibrahimovic had scored all five of his penalty kicks this season and didn't miss this time either, striking it into the bottom left corner. Brkic dived the right way but could do nothing to prevent it from going in.
It was Ibrahimovic's 10th league goal of the season.
Alberto Gilardino gave Fiorentina an early lead when he volleyed in Juan Manuel Vargas' cross in the ninth minute. The home side should have doubled its advantage in the 72nd but Atalanta goalkeeper Andrea Consigli did well to tip Valon Behrami's fierce effort onto the crossbar.
Atalanta got stronger as the game went on and got its just rewards 10 minutes from time when a corner was cleared to Masiello, who fired in the equalizer on the volley from 25 yards out.
The visitors were in front five minutes later when Ezequiel Schelotto crossed in toward the far post where Denis tapped it in from close range for his 11th goal of the season.
Fiorentina rescued a point two minutes later when Jovetic acrobatically volleyed in Lorenzo De Silvestri's pass. Replays showed the ball had bounced off De Silvestri's arm, leaving Atalanta coach Stefano Colantuono fuming.
“It was an action from a volleyball game, not football,” Colantuono said. “We started the season with penalty points and we're already making mistakes so then on top of that there are referees who aren't paying enough attention. But that's life. It would have given us more breathing space if we had got two more points today.”
At Chievo, Alberto Paloschi tormented the Cagliari defense throughout the match and created the opening goal by setting up Thereau, who muscled his way past his marker and into the area before firing into the middle of the net.
Cagliari had a good chance to immediately restore parity as first Victor Ibarbo had his shot rebound off a Chievo defender before Pablo Cepellini also had a shot blocked. The ball then fell to Thiago Ribeiro but the Brazilian's shot flew well wide of the left post.
Chievo extended its lead in the 57th minute as Thereau put in a tantalizing cross, which Sardo raced onto to surprise the Cagliari defense, and shot into the bottom left corner.