THE ROSSONERI’s lead at the top of Serie A was cut to just 3 points earlier today, as Milan succumbed to a 1-1 draw with Genoa, whilst Napoli won 2-0. Milan had taken the lead through Alexandre Pato, after a great ball from Ibrahimovic, but Genoa scored a fortunate goal in the dying minutes of the first half, to undeservedley go level. The second half was goalless, and so Milan failed to take all 3 points back to the San Siro.
Milan’s squad was still plagued by injuries, so Allegri fielded a 4-3-1-2, with Abbiati in goal, behind a somewhat makeshift back line of Bonera, Yepes, Thiago Silva and Massimo Oddo. In midfield, Van Bommel returned from suspension, with Mathieu Flamini and Gennaro Gattuso completing the combative trio. Meanwhile, Robinho and Ibrahimovic were once again joined by Pato to make up the attack.
In what as a fairly pacey opening, Milan had the first chance of the game just 3 minutes in. Bringing the ball down with his chest, Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed to turn former Milan defender kaladze, and chip the ball through for Robinho. However, the move wasn’t quite timed correctly, and Robinho found himself offside. Nonetheless, it was a good indicator of Milan’s eagerness to get forward, and the creative trio of Pato, Ibrahimovic and Robinho had made a seemingly bright start.
Just moments later, and Genoa were trying to ruffle Milan feathers. After some good work from january signing Konko, Floro Flores’ shot deflected off Gennaro Gattuso for a corner – Genoa maintained the pressure with a corner, but Floro Flores (who got there once again) saw his shot fly wide.
Just short of the 10 minute mark, in a fairly end to end opening section of the match, Milan almost took the lead. After a ball wide from Oddo, Pato picked up the ball in space, and layed it off to Robinho. Robinho then played an excellent 1-2 with pato, to find himself in a bit of space inside the box, however, the ball was running away from goal and in order to get power in the shot, he struck it hard – but this meant the ball ended up going wide of the goal, after he sliced it.
With 20 minutes on the clock, the end to end style continued as Genoa came close to taking the lead. After an attack broke down, Genoa could break on the counter, and did with Criscito. Running down the left wing, Criscito managed to find Kucka inside in space! Kucka decided to touch the ball on, and ferociously struck it goalwards! The long range effort was on target, and seemed destined for the back of the net, but Christian Abbiati was up to the task, and managed to punch it over the crossbar.
Moments short of the half an hour mark, Milan finally took the lead! A long ball by Thiago Silva was played up towards Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but it was hit too long, however, it was a poor header back out from the Genoa defender – and Ibrahimovic managed to recover the ball. Ibrahimovic managed to turn around, delay a second, and then play an inch perfect ball around 2 genoa defenders, to pick out the oncoming Alexandre Pato – who took a touch, before slotting it coolly in to the bottom corner past Eduardo.
Very shortly after, Genoa were pressurising, and hoping to get back in to the game very quickly after conceding, but this almost lead to their downfall. Picking the ball up deep on the counter, Robinho wonderfully layed off the ball to Ibra with a brilliant flick, and he continued his run forward. Ibrahimovic spotted him, and played it through down the left flank, and Genoa were forced towards the left. This meant Pato was completely unmarked in the box, and Robinho intelligently played the ball in early to him, but after controlling it well, Dainelli made amends for his poor header out moments earlier, by putting in an outstanding block to deny Pato’s second.
Nearing the 4 minute mark, Milan came close to doubling their lead (and deservedly so) after winning the ball back, Gattuso managed to play the ball out wide, and shortly after Ibrahimovic beat Kaladze and played the ball to Pato. By drifting back, Ibrahimovic had created a huge gap in the Genoa defence, which Robinho ran in to – as Pato played him through, however, he was narrowly offside, and although the decision to put his flag up came late, the linesman was right to do so.
In stoppage time of the first half, Genoa struck a powerful blow. Genoa were pressing high up the field, and heading goalwards, when Daniele Bonera dived in to make an exceptional tackle to stop the move, however, the ball deflected very fortuitously to Antonio Floro Flores, who found himself free inside the box 1 on 1 with Christian Abbiati, and managed to place the ball low in to the bottom corner – meaning there was nothing Abbiati could do. Despite the way the ball got to him being very lucky, he took his goal very well, though Genoa didn’t deserve it.
The Rossoneri should easily have been in the lead at the half way mark, but after a bit of misfortune and the fact that they had failed to extend their 1 goal lead, they went in level with Genoa at half time.
The second half started off in a similar vain to the first, once again Milan were looking the better side and once again it was Milan who had the first chance. Moments after resuming the game, it was Robinho who the chance fell to – Genoa had their backs to the wall, and as Robinho got a sight of goal, marco Rossi dived in and made an excellent tackle, just before Robinho was able to pull the trigger. The scores remained level.
At the two-thirds way stage, Massimiliano Allegri decided to take off Robinho, and bring on Antonio Cassano.
10 minutes later, Milan once more came close to scoring, after Pato headed a looping ball back across the penalty area, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was first to the ball, but Eduardo was up to the task and saved well. The Rossoneri were dominating now, and won a few corners in short succession, but nothing much came of them, and no 1 chance from this period of time stood out in particular, whilst Genoa still threatened occasionally on the counter.
Despite Genoa beginning to dominate at this point – thriving under Milan’s need to get the ball forward, Milan really did have to go for it, so Allegri took off Mathiey Flamini, and brought on the more offensive minded Urby Emanuelson.
Genoa continued to dominate, and, there weren’t many real chances for Milan at all. At the start of injury time, Ibrahimovic knocked the ball down for Pato – but as the brazilian volleyed the ball in to the back of the net (for what would have been a very well worked goal) the whistle went – signalling that Ibrahimovic supposedly fouled the Genoa defender in the process of winning the knockdown.
The game ended 1-1. For all Milan deserved to be leading at half time (but weren’t) Genoa deserved to be winning in the second half (but weren’t) so overall a draw was a fair result. Taking Robinho off was not a wise move since his work rate and energy was missed between the lines and Milan struggled to create much once he was off the field, and Genoa did very well to not allow the Rossoneri time to make chances. You can’t help but feel though – if Antonio Floro Flores hadn’t scored that lucky goal, the result would’ve been very different.
Best Moment: Pato’s goal
Man of the Match: Hard to choose one tbh, Pretty much everyone was poor second half, compared to the first.
By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog