Milan, Oct 25: AC Milan got back to winning ways with a flattering 4-1 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in Champions League Group D.
Alberto Gilardino, preferred to Filippo Inzaghi up front, nodded in Andrea Pirlo's sixth-minute corner and Clarence Seedorf's cross on 14 minutes to boost the holders after a dreadful run of form.
The home side were still not totally fluent and the Ukrainians were in charge for long spells with Shakhtar's Italy striker Cristiano Lucarelli netting a rebound after the break before two controlled Seedorf strikes settled the game.
Milan, who visit Ukraine in two weeks' time, join Shakhtar on top of the group with six points from three games.
''Their team played offensive football with a lot of players in attack and it gave us the opportunity to counter-attack,'' Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference yesterday.
''It will be a difficult game (in Donetsk) because it is not easy to play against a team with such quality.'' Ancelotti's men were desperate for the win after losing 2-1 at Celtic in their last Champions League match and being humbled 1-0 at home by Empoli in Serie A on Sunday to leave them 10 points adrift of leaders Inter Milan.
Any nerves were quickly settled though when Gilardino twice pounced on loose Shakhtar marking with fairly simple headers.
The 25-year-old almost left Milan in the close season after saying he felt under-appreciated but he made the most of his chances in the drizzle with Inzaghi out of form and Ronaldo still not fit enough to feature this season.
Paolo Maldini was not even on the bench after playing his first match of the season against Empoli following knee surgery but Kaka shook off a knee problem to start.
The Brazilian was not at his very best, however, and missed several efforts, including one golden first-half chance when he scuffed his shot after racing clear. He struck the post in the second half and the ball ran along the line and out.
Milan had other chances and could easily have paid for their wastefulness with big-spending Shakhtar showing why they beat Celtic 2-0 and Benfica 1-0 in their previous group matches.
Former Livorno striker Lucarelli, who scored both goals for Italy in last Wednesday's 2-0 friendly win over South Africa, lashed home a deserved goal after Milan had failed to clear.
Shakhtar's Brazilian contingent of Jadson, Ilsinho and Brandao all troubled Milan keeper Zeljko Kalac, playing after Dida was suspended for feigning injury at Celtic.
But Seedorf's cool head won the game for Milan when he twice netted from the edge of the area just past the hour.
''We lost, we deserved to. We showed in the previous two matches that we are better than we were tonight. But the fourth goal was offside, definitely,'' Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu said, referring to his keeper being blocked as Seedorf shot.