Balotelli at the double in Milan victory

Mario Balotelli struck twice to bolster AC Milan's bid for Champions League football with a thumping 4-0 win at already-relegated Pescara.

Balotelli holding off Capuano's challenge.

Balotelli smoothed the way for a comfortable night when he opened the scoring from the penalty spot after nine minutes.

Sulley Muntari and Mathieu Flamini put Milan out of sight before Balotelli secured his double just before the hour.

Milan's win ensured they would remain in third place on Wednesday night with a full round of fixtures in Serie A.

Balotelli almost fired the visitors into a second-minute lead when he smashed a shot against the woodwork from close range after a corner was allowed to run through to him.

The Italy striker did not have to wait to open the scoring, however, as Milan won a penalty on nine minutes when Antonio Nocerino was tripped by Uros Cosic.

Balotelli slotted the penalty home, with Mattia Perin diving the wrong way, to ensure his perfect record from the spot.

Muntari doubled Milan's lead on 33 minutes when he was left unmarked to turn in a free-kick.

Milan were well on track for victory and they were 3-0 up through Flamini six minutes after half-time.

Balotelli started the move as he freed Robinho, who profited from Luciano Zauri's slip, to allow him the time to pick out Flamini to tap in.

Balotelli then grabbed his 11th Milan goal in as many appearances on 57 minutes.

The former Manchester City striker received Flamini's pull back before firing in from six yards.

It could have been worse for Pescara but Perin did well to keep out Stephan El Shaarawy late on.

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