Brazilian forward Kaka boosted his World Cup hopes by scoring his 100th and 101st goals for AC Milan in a welcome 3-0 win over Atalanta at the San Siro on Monday.
Kaka is one of several Europe-based stars hoping to nail a place in Luiz Felipe Scolari`s squad and did his chances a world of good with two well-taken goals that helped move struggling Milan up two places to 11th.
Milan coach MassimilianoAllegri, who on Sunday confirmed his departure from the club at the end of the season, had labelled the game a relegation dogfight and was relieved after Atalanta rattled the woodwork twice.
“There was only one point between us and we were only five points clear of the bottom three,” said the 46-year-old coach.
“Atalanta had a few scoring chances in the second half but overall I don`t think we gave too many chances away. We should have defended better, but Atalanta are a strong side and (goalkeeper) Christian Abbiati did well.”
Mario Balotelli, recovering from flu, started on the bench with Alessandro Matri spearheading the attack in Allegri`s preferred 4-3-2-1 formation, which also featured midfielder Bryan Cristante.
Former Valencia defender Adil Rami also made his debut while Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda, who arrived in Milan during the festive break, watched the game from the stands alongside club CEO Adriano Galliani.
Cristante, making only his second senior appearance, scored Milan`s third in the 67th minute to virtually secure what was only Milan`s second win in their past 10 games and fifth of the campaign.
Before then, Kaka led the charge, scoring his 100th goal for the club after collecting a pass deep on the left of the area to turn and beat Andrea Consigli with an angled strike at the keeper`s far post.
When the ball bobbled in front of the unmarked Brazilian, Kaka promptly smashed the ball past Consigli from close range.
“That`s the best way to start 2014,” said Kaka, who appeared at the post-match press conference with five-year-old son Luca in his arms.