Milan s Junior Messias, left, scores to 0-1 during the Serie A soccer match between AC Monza and AC Milan at the U-Power stadium in Monza, Italy, Saturday Feb. 18, 2023. AP
Milan's season is creaking back into gear and Brazilian Messias lashed in a powerful strike from the edge of the area in the 31st minute to claim the points at the U-Power Stadium.
A third league win since the new year has Stefano Pioli's side level on 44 points with local rivals Inter Milan, who sit second and face off-form Udinese in Saturday's late match.
Both Milan giants are a whopping 18 points behind rampant league leaders Napoli after their 2-0 win at Sassuolo on Friday.
Saturday's win against their Lombardy rivals was Milan's third in a row in all competitions and came after Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Monza, whose unbeaten record ends at eight matches, dropped down a place to 11th thanks also to Bologna's late 2-1 win at struggling Sampdoria earlier on Saturday.
Milan were still not back to their very best but could have easily won by more, Michele Di Gregorio having to make a series of saves before Messias crashed home his third league goal of the season.
Rafael Leao clipped a speculative effort off the post in the 19th minute and six minutes later his weak finish at the end of a counter-attack was pushed out by Di Gregorio, who than had to pounce to stop Brahim Diaz from scoring on the round.
Tomori forced another good save from Di Gregorio with a snap shot just before the half-hour mark, but the best chance of the lot was wasted by Theo Hernandez in the 56th minute.
The France left-back was sent charging through by Leao but misdirected his chipped finish into the side netting.
Milan then had to weather a late Monza storm as Patrick Ciurria struck a low shot off the post before Di Gregorio kept out Sandro Tonali and Matteo Pessina denied struggling summer signing Charles De Ketelaere.
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