(Reuters) - AC Milan ended their seven-game winless run in all competitions after a second-half header by Olivier Giroud earned a 1-0 home win over courageous Torino in Serie A on Friday.
Milan, who last won a game over a month ago when the league resumed following the World Cup break, moved provisionally up to third from sixth in the standings on 41 points from 22 games.
"I expected a difficult game, it makes you play little and doesn't let you build cleanly," Milan coach Stefano Pioli told DAZN.
"We worked a lot inside the match, the goal then unblocked us from a mental point of view and then we were a better team compared to the beginning of the match.
"It's a small step forward that was needed. We have to look ahead, the season is still long. To make the Champions League again next year is a good result, we have to give continuity in the next matches."
Milan, who host Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, were under pressure for most of the first half, with Torino quickly gaining confidence in search of an early advantage.
The visitors had a chance in the 18th minute when striker Antonio Sanabria's low shot from the edge of the box went just wide.
Torino had another opportunity three minutes later but goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu kept out Sanabria's effort before the referee blew for a foul in the build-up.
Milan flew out of the traps after the break, though, with Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic watching from the bench after recovering from a long-term ACL injury.
The hosts had their best chance in the 54th minute when forward Rafael Leao connected inside the box but goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic saved his first-time shot.
However, Pioli's men broke the deadlock just after the hour when Giroud nodded home a cross from defender Theo Hernandez.
Clearly fired up, Milan went looking for another goal and Hernandez had a chance to double their lead on the counter-attack in the 76th but dragged his shot wide.
"With this victory we move forward," Hernandez said. "When you lose so many games it's only a mental problem; we are a strong team, all united and the fans are with us."
It had been more than three months since Milan kept a clean sheet in Serie A - a 0-0 draw on Nov. 8 at Cremonese.
Torino, who beat Udinese 1-0 last time out, remain seventh on 30 points -- eight points away from the European spots.
They next host bottom side Cremonese on Feb. 20 after Milan travel to Monza on Feb. 18.
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