Loftus-Cheek shines as Milan ease to 3-0 win away at Empoli

Third-placed AC Milan secured a comfortable 3-0 win at Empoli thanks to goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Olivier Giroud and Chaka Traorè in Serie A on Sunday.

Milan seized the lead after 11 minutes when Rafael Leão surged past his marker on the wing, delivering a precise pass to Loftus-Cheek inside the box, who sidefooted the ball into the bottom corner.

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The visitors extended their lead when Giroud scored from the penalty spot after 31 minutes following a handball by Empoli's Youssef Maleh.

Traorè secured Milan's third goal two minutes before stoppage time from a counter-attack assisted by Christian Pulisic.

Olivier Giroud has nine goals and five assists in 16 Serie A games this season.
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Milan are third in the standings with 39 points, nine behind leaders Inter Milan and four behind second-placed Juventus, who are in action later on Sunday.

Empoli are second-from-bottom with 13 points.

In the heavy rain, Empoli encountered difficulties in creating significant scoring opportunities and was restricted to mostly long-range attempts, while Milan maintained control for most of the match.

Milan manager Stefano Pioli faced another injury concern as defender Alessandro Florenzi was substituted off in the first half due to a suspected hamstring injury.

Pioli already had several players out injured, including Malick Thiaw, Fikayo Tomori, and Tommaso Pobega.

With the third win in a row in all competitions, Milan have regained momentum after a run of disappointing results, including missing out on qualification for the Champions League knockout stages.

"I think the negative period is behind us. But it's useless to think about what we could have done because there are still many games and many possibilities for this season to be positive too," Pioli told DAZN.

Empoli became more dangerous after the hour mark, with Milan keeper Mike Maignan blocking a threatening attempt by Matteo Cancellieri.

Pioli was asked about the team's prospects of winning the league this season.

"We need a much better second half than last year's second half... This year, we have to do better," he said.

Milan's upcoming schedule includes a Coppa Italia quarter-final against Atalanta on Wednesday, followed by a home fixture against AS Roma in Serie A on Jan. 14.

"We are growing, we are playing at a good level. Now we have Atalanta in the Coppa Italia, it's a competition we care about, and we will give our best," Pioli said.