Third place in sight for Milan

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty ImagesStephen El Shaarawy, left, shows his relief after scoring for the first time in five Serie A games. He has 15 goals this season.

It's been a good month. The Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus aside, Milan ended January with three wins and a draw in Serie A while moving into fifth place in the process with Sunday's 1-0 win at Atalanta.

Equally as important, the Rossoneri are now within six points of third place, so is the objective of Champions League football becoming more realistic with each passing week?

Victory in Bergamo was sealed thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy's first goal in five league games, with the other half of the dynamic duo in Mbaye Niang providing the assist. Building on the performance last weekend in the win over Bologna, Milan were once more dominant in possession and are finally beginning to look assured and comfortable in what they are doing.

Aside from a brief spell following the sending off Davide Brivio when the home side fought hard in their search for an equaliser, the win was very much warranted. The Rossoneri will now eye a third consecutive league win when they host Udinese at San Siro next weekend.

Stat Alert! After round 13 of Serie A fixtures, Fiorentina were 12 points above Milan. After Sunday, the Viola are now a point behind. What this demonstrates is that both Massimiliano Allegri and the players have successfully dealt with the wave of criticism they faced at the start of the season and are now becoming a more solid unit.

“The team is doing fairly well and this was a good victory in a difficult arena," Allegri said. "We’re a little more organised in the middle and can move the ball better in attack, which means when we play quickly we can do damage. We are growing and I cannot say how much this side can improve."

Since that comeback in Naples at the end of November, the Rossoneri have won seven, drawn one and lost just once, away at Roma. Without setting the world alight along the way, they’ve battled hard to work their way up the standings are now in a position to really attack the likes of Lazio and Inter for that all-important Champions League spot.

They will now face Udinese, Cagliari and Parma in the next three weeks, and have shown they are more than capable of taking the maximum nine points. What better way to prepare for a crucial week which includes clashes with Barcelona and Inter with three more wins to boost confidence?

Additionally, it will be a great relief for El Shaarawy to return to the scoresheet, with the 20-year-old doing everything else right apart from finding the back of the net in recent weeks. His goal made it 15 in the league for the season, and hopefully there will be many more to come, preferably as crucial as Sunday's strike.

So who was your man of the match in Bergamo? Now just six points adrift of Lazio, are Milan showing they are capable of snatching third place?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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