Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic marked his return from a three-match suspension in thrilling style by hitting a first-half hat-trick as champions AC Milan enjoyed a 4-0 cruise at Palermo.
The win allowed Milan to open a four-point lead over Juventus at the top of the table,although their Turin rivals have two games in hand. “I’ll get the whole team to sign the ball and then take it home with me,” said Ibrahimovic,whose last hat-trick was as a Juve player in 2005.”We played an important game very well and must now keep going like this.”
Palermo had not lost to Milan at home since 2006 but Ibrahimovic soon put that record to bed by giving his side a 3-0 lead by the 35th minute yesterday. He broke the deadlock in the 21st minute when Sulley Muntari set up Robinho,who found the big Swede in space to find the target with a left-footed curler.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0,when Ibrahimovic poked a low drive past goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano. He completed his hat-trick after 35 minutes when he guided a shot inside the right-hand post from a few yards outside the area.
Milan’s rout was confirmed just before the hour mark when Thiago Silva headed in a cross from Stephan El Shaarawy. Sunday sees the Rome derby between Roma and Lazio. Lazio,who won the season’s first derby right at the death,will expect to bag full points as they chase down the top two-they are currently level on 45 points with third-placed Udinese,who take on Atalanta.