MILAN have taken another leap forward in their Scudetto bid after a 1-0 victory against Juventus. After shading the first half, Milan continued to be the better side in the second half, and Rino Gattuso’s 8th ever Serie A goal (and his first for 3 years) gifted Milan all 3 points as Juventus failed to get a shot on target, despite Milan missing some key players even before Pato’s withdrawal!
After Pato’s late withdrawal due to the fever, Milan were forced to make changes. In Allegri’s 4-3-1-2 Abbiati started in goal behind Abate, Nesta Thiago Silva and Jankulovski Whilst the same midfield as the Napoli game was played (Flamini, Van Bommel, Gattuso). In attack, Robinho was on the bench perhaps with the Spurs game in mind, whilst Boateng’s impressive display earned him a starting spot behind Ibrahimovic and Cassano who was in for the ill Pato.
It seemes like all of Milan’s games start off at some pace nowadays, and this was no difference. Within minutes Milan could have led after an excellent ball in found Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but his shot was blocked well and the ball went high over the bar. Despite the exciting start though, there wasn’t much action in the opening 10 minutes, but both sides looked fairly dangerous on the counter – particularly Krasic’s driving running style for Juve (which also made it tricky to challenge him).
After Juve had the better of the first 10 minutes or so (despite Milan being closest to scoring) the game was open, and Milan began to dominate, with some well worked combinations from Ibrahimovic and Cassano, as well as an excellent idea from a corner, where the ball was played out and then back in for Cassano running in to the side of the box – but the play was read well by Juve, and they were able to clear. Despite the game being open, there were no clear cut scoring chances early on.
Milan were imposing themselves more and more on the game, and just after 20 minutes, Milan very nearly took the lead! After a superb ball from Kevin-Prince Boateng, the ball fell to the feet of Antonio Cassano. The Italin did well to drag the ball right before cutting it back inside – but as he went to curl his shot in to the back of the net, he leaned back slightly and the ball sat up awkwardly – it ended up over the bar. Juve were getting a lot of dangerous free kicks around the Milan area, but failed to take advantage.
With not far off half an hour gone, Milan were noticably the better side, and were looking to get forward. Gennaro Gattuso played a superb ball downfield for Antonio Cassano, and Cassano did well to bring it down, and play it in to the box. His ball was looking for Ibrahimovic, and the Swede went to volley it goalwards first time – however, Ibrahimovic misread the flight of the ball, and the ball ended up bouncing past him to the touchline away from danger.
The Rossoneri were on top with 5 minutes to go before half time, and were getting quite a bit of joy from playing long balls inbetween the center back and full back, but still Milan were unable to capitalise. Both teams looked dangerous – particularly on the counter, though Milan were marginally the better side in the first half.
Milan had an oppertunity late on as Ibrahimovic showed great pace to beat Chiellini to the ball, after a slight mix up between him and Cassano, Fantantonio found himself fouled from behind, but nothing was given. Juve broke and Van Bommel was booked for a late tackle but nothing came of the free kick. After a fast and frantic opening part to the half, the game settled down to a much slower pace. Krasic had impressed for Juve, and Milan had just looked dangerous in general, though Cassano came the closest to giving Milan the lead, the score was 0-0 at half time.
At half time, Robinho was brought on for Kevin-Prince Boateng, in the hope of establishing a link between midfield and attack.
Milan started the second half in a similar vein to how they started the first. In the early exchnages though, the best effort came from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After a Milan counter, the Rossoneri had a free kick from around 25 yards out, and he blasted it goalwards with a dipping swerving shot. The effort had Gianluigi Buffon scrambling across goal, but the Italian just about managed to parry it wide and away from danger. Milan were now clearly the better team. Ibrahimovic did go down in Juve’s box a minute later wanting a penalty, it wasn’t clear either way but the referee waved play on regardless.
With almost 70 minutes on the clock, Milan took the lead! After a ball in to the box, Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed to knock the ball back towards the edge of the box. Gennaro Gattuso took one touch forward on the bounce after picking it up on the edge of the are, and then struck the ball hard and low back across goal with his weaker foot, leaving Buffon helpless as it head towards the bottom corner to give Milan the lead! A great finish for one not known for his finishing ability! After this Clarence Seedorf came on to replace Antonio Cassano.
In the next 10 minutes, there were no clear cut chances. Ibrahimovic was put through once, but he was found to be offside – which was unfortunate since he had managed to play an excellent ball for Seedorf to tap in, but the whistle had already gone.
Milan came close to doubling their lead shortly after. After some excellent play on the right flank from Clarence Seedorf, the dutchman chipped the ball in to the box. Ibrahimovic positioned himself well and played an intelligent knockdown for Flamini, but he couldn’t take it first time and Robinho’s late run in to the box prevented him from getting a shot away. The ball did end up at Robinho’s feet, and he shifted it before taking a shot but it was blocked, and nothing came from the corner.
As the game approached the end, the game settled down. It seems Milan were happy enough with the 1-0 win, and were content on remaining comfortable, whereas Juve were struggling to create much. Juventus made a very late claim for a penalty late on, right on the edge of the area, but it wasn’t as much of a penalty as Ibra’s earlier claim, and so correctly a penalty was not given..
The full time whistle sinalled a deserved and well earned victory for Milan. The Rossoneri have ticked off another one of their remaining games against big teams, and are now 1 step closer to the Scudetto after a huge 3 points against Juve – Massimiliano Allegri can now turn his attentions to the midweek clash with Spurs at White Hart Lane…
Best Moment: Gattuso’s quality finish
Man of the Match: Gennaro Gattuso, mainly for the winner but he looked solid throughout.
By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog