Genoa, March 12: Andre Silva scored his first Serie A goal in the final seconds of the game as AC Milan earned a dramatic last-gasp 1-0 win at Genoa.
The Portugal striker arrived at San Siro from Porto among much fanfare in the close-season, but he had failed to score in 16 previous top-flight matches for the Rossoneri in a difficult domestic campaign.
However, Silva was the hero for Gennaro Gattuso's men at the Luigi Ferraris when he leapt to head in Suso's 94th-minute cross and settle what had been an attritional contest.
Genoa will feel aggrieved not to have secured a share of the spoils having defended resolutely for most of the game, and had Luca Rigoni not been denied by a tight VAR call or Ervin Zukanovic not spectacularly fluffed his lines with a close-range header in the second half the hosts might have won ot.
For Milan, the late drama marks a spirited response to the 2-0 Europa League defeat to Arsenal – their first loss in any competition since December – and they will now look ahead to Thursday's rescue mission in the second leg.
A three-point return also sees Gattuso's men close to within six points of the Champions League qualification places, having made it nine league matches without defeat.
An impeccably observed tribute to former Fiorentina defender Davide Astori – who died last week aged 31 – preceded kick-off, with former Italy team-mate Leonardo Bonucci, who had Astori's number 13 on his captain's armband, close to tears.
Milan started on the front foot and Giacomo Bonaventura drove an effort over the top from the edge of the box before Ricardo Rodriguez's dangerous drilled centre from the left was directed goalwards from eight yards by Nikola Kalinic, who was denied by the quick reflexes of Mattia Perin.
Genoa had shown little in attack until the 25th minute when Diego Laxalt flashed the ball across the face of goal, but Andrey Galabinov was flat-footed in the area and failed to meet the delivery.
Milan were denied the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time when Suso's corner was headed against the right-hand post by Hakan Calhanoglu and Bonaventura – who tapped in the follow-up – was rightly judged to be offside.
Calhanoglu then hit a dipping half-volley over the crossbar as Milan finished the half strongly.
The visitors survived two huge scares early in the second half, though.
First Rigoni headed in Oscar Hiljemark's whipped free-kick only to be denied by a VAR review, before Zukanovic inexplicably headed Rigoni's knock-back wide from point-blank range in the six-yard box.
Milan regained their composure and Bonaventura shimmied before flashing an effort wide of the left-post, and Suso showed quick feet before laying a ball agonisingly across the face of goal that no team-mate gambled on.
It looked as though Milan would be frustrated when Suso bent a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide of the right upright and Franck Kessie was denied with a low strike.
But with the final play of the match Suso weaved the ball onto his potent left foot on the right flank and delivered a teasing cross into the area that Silva – whose only goals this season have come in Europe – emphatically headed into the top-right corner.