AC Milan legend Paolo Maldino trumpeted his team's return to form following a 1-0 win at Fiorentina.
AC Milan legend Paolo Maldino trumpeted his team's return to form following their crucial 1-0 win at Fiorentina on Sunday.
That victory moved the European champions to within four points of the Viola in the crucial fourth place and final Champions League qualification position.
Milan got off to a terrible start in the league this season, failing to win in any of their first seven home matches and languishing in mid-table until the turn of the year.
But inspired by four goals in six matches from new teeange forward Pato, who netted the winner in Florence 13 minutes from time, Milan have won five of their last six and are charging up the table, currently in fifth spot.
"Finally we are starting to do what we should always be doing," said Maldini. "Unfortunately as far as the table is concerned we've been hit hard by the fact we went so long without winning at home, something which is really not like Milan.
"Now we need to get back on our path, it's just a shame that we lost three points against Atalanta."
That was the only match since the turn of the year that Milan failed to win, when they lost a 1-0 lead to go down 2-1.
But other than that they have managed to mostly grind out results, winning 1-0 three times.
Two of those were crucial victories against their direct rivals for fourth place, the other being Udinese, which is Milan's current aim having long given up any hopes of catching bitter city rivals Inter Milan in the title race.
But now they will have to do so without Pato, who damaged ankle ligaments against Fiorentina and could face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
"I'm very worried about Pato because he has a very painful twisted ankle, which is a new feeling for him," added Maldini.
"But I don't think it is as serious as it would have been if it had been on the knee rather than the ankle. Therefore it's not as bad as it looked on the field."
"Now we need to keep doing well, we have to have big aims. Twenty days ago fourth place seemed like utopia. Soon the Champions League will start up again, which drains you physically and mentally. Our aim is to try to find more consistency in the league."
However Milan are facing something of an injury crisis up front with Ronaldo and Filippo Inzaghi already on the sidelines and now Pato and Kaka coming out of the Fiorentina match on the treatment table.
To make matters worse, Milan's only other forward Alberto Gilardino will be suspended for this weekend's match against Siena.
It's a situation that has coach Carlo Ancelotti worried.
"For Pato we have to wait 48 hours," said Ancelotti after the game. "Obviously the player feels pain but we have to wait and see. We hope it's nothing serious." Ancelotti described his striking situation as an emergency.
"At this time we have played a lot and have played some important matches from a physical and psychological perspective, always with the pressure on us to climb back up the table."
"Now we have a week of trying to make the best of what we have, we'll try to get some players back fit. Gilardino will be suspended against Siena. Ronaldo? We'll see. He's hoping to be fit to play."