Honda plays starring role as Milan beats Chievo to end skid


Keisuke Honda scored his fourth goal in six matches as AC Milan ended a three-game winless streak in Serie A with a 2-0 victory over visiting Chievo Verona on Saturday.

Sulley Muntari celebrated his 250th match in Serie A by giving Milan the lead in the 55th minute with a looping volley from beyond the area after a cross from Honda was headed away.

Honda then secured the points with a precise free kick over a Chievo wall in the 78th.

Having scored only one goal in the Italian League last season after joining Milan in January, Honda is thriving in the more attacking system under new coach Filippo Inzaghi.

“He’s a serious professional. He always arrives at training two hours early, which I appreciate,” Inzaghi said. “I’m happy for him because he deserves the applause from our fans.”

Milan moved into a tie for fourth with Sampdoria and Hellas Verona, which beat Cagliari 1-0 earlier with a late goal from Panagiotis Tachtsidis. The trio are four points behind leaders Juventus and Roma, who meet on Sunday.

Udinese is three points back in third.

“We know we still have to improve but we’ve got to continue on this road,” Inzaghi said. “It was a good performance from everyone.”

City moves into second


Manchester City kept the pressure on Premier League leader Chelsea by scoring late goals in a 2-0 win over Aston Villa, while Liverpool revived its faltering campaign by beating West Bromwich Albion 2-1 on Saturday.

Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero produced moments of brilliance in the final eight minutes to break Villa’s stubborn resistance and provisionally move second-placed City to within two points of Chelsea, which hosts Arsenal on Sunday.

“I was thinking a little bit that it wasn’t going to be our day,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side dominated the second half and had 25 attempts in total.

Jordan Henderson set up Liverpool’s opening goal by Adam Lallana and then grabbed the winner against West Brom, lifting the anxiety around Anfield after the club’s run of three league games without victory.

“We needed to find a way to win today,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, whose team has struggled to maintain the form of last season that swept it to a second-place finish behind City.

Liverpool’s problems are nothing compared to those of Newcastle, which remained winless this season after a 2-2 draw at Swansea.

The pressure on Newcastle manager Alan Pardew would have been fierce with another defeat but he was helped out by two equalizers from Papiss Cisse, who also scored twice to snatch a draw against Hull two weeks ago.

“Anybody who saw the game today will see the players gave everything,” Pardew said.

“It’s my job to try and lift the players and make sure there’s fight in their belly. The confidence will get better and this will give us belief.”