AC Milan’s Rafael Leao scored twice to earn a 2-0 home win over Lecce on Sunday in the race for a top-four spot in Serie A.
They moved up one place to fifth on 56 points, level with AS Roma who are fourth and travel to Atalanta on Monday.
Milan are also three points behind third-placed Juventus, whose 15-point deduction over the club’s transfer dealings was scrapped on Thursday, pending a new hearing.
Milan, who on Tuesday reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since they won the trophy 16 years ago, returned to winning ways in domestic action.
This was after they were held to consecutive draws by mid-table Bologna and Empoli.
“We could have found more offensive situations, but we played as a mature and true team, winning deservedly,” coach Stefano Pioli said.
“There are only a few games left and we need to score points to qualify in the top four.”
Pioli made seven changes to the team that were held at Bologna last weekend when he had one eye on the Champions League clash, with Leao, Brahim Diaz and Junior Messias playing behind Ante Rebic and defender Theo Hernandez also back.
Hernandez was taken down in the box early in the game and Milan thought they would be awarded a penalty but the referee changed his decision following a lengthy VAR review.
Lecce could have sprung a surprise moments later through winger Lameck Banda who broke inside the box but his close-range header hit the post.
Leao eventually gave Milan the lead five minutes before halftime from a corner with a towering header that bounced in front of goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone and into the net.
Despite dominating possession, Milan had to wait until 15 minutes from time for the Portugal forward to double the lead.
The 23-year-old latched onto the ball in the middle of the pitch and set off on a brilliant solo run before striking a low shot inside the box that went in off the post.
“Against a closed opponent it is difficult to find the goal, but to have found it in the first half was important,” Leao said.
“After training we make crosses, because (the coach) wants me to score more headers. Today I managed it and I’m happy.”
With 12th goal of the season Leao became the second Portuguese player – after Cristiano Ronaldo – to net more than 10 times in two consecutive Serie A seasons.
Lecce, who have failed to win in eight games since February, stay 16th with 28 points, two points above the relegation zone.
Monza came from two goals down to claim a 3-2 victory at home to Fiorentina while Udinese won 3-0 against second-bottom side Cremonese, who are eight points adrift of the safety zone.