AC Milan took advantage of Atalanta's stumble in Serie A on Saturday as the defending champions moved up to second place after a late goal by striker Olivier Giroud helped them to a home 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Spezia.
Milan moved up to 29 points, overtaking Atalanta who were beaten 2-1 by leaders Napoli earlier on Saturday.
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"As far as mentality and character are concerned, we are second to none," Milan coach Stefano Pioli told Sky Italia.
"We know we have to claim a lot of points, we want to get to November 13 with the best standings possible. We have to focus on our own race."
Milan came close to opening the scoring in the 14th minute when defender Fikayo Tomori aimed for the middle of the goal but Spezia goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski denied his effort.
Two minutes later, Milan midfielder Rade Krunic hit the crossbar and then a header by Brahim Diaz towards the bottom right corner was parried by the Polish keeper.
Dragowski saved another shot, from Junior Messias, in the 18th minute, but was beaten three minutes later when Theo Hernandez converted a stunning cross from Ismael Bennacer, sending it inside the near post.
The goal was subjected to a lengthy VAR review for a potential offside in the build-up but the referee declared it valid five minutes later.
Rafael Leao could have doubled Milan's lead before half-time but his attempt from the edge of the box crashed against the bar. Krunic followed up from inside the six-yard box but Dragowski saved his low shot.
Spezia drew level just before the hour mark through forward Daniel Maldini who fired home a curled shot from the corner of the box.
The 21-year-old, on loan from Milan, scored his first Serie A goal for Spezia and broke his side's scoring drought away from home as his father, former Milan and Italy captain Paolo Maldini, watched from the stands.
Milan thought they had retaken the lead in the 65th minute when Divock Origi set up Sandro Tonali for a beautiful strike from outside the box but the goal was ruled out by the VAR for a foul in the build-up.
Giroud got the winner with a superb first-time shot from a tight angle after getting a cross from Tonali in the 89th minute but moments later the Frenchman collected a second yellow card, for taking off his shirt, and was sent off.
Milan, who are six points behind Napoli, travel to relegation-threatened Cremonese on Tuesday while Spezia, who are 17th on nine points and three above the relegation zone, host Udinese earlier that day