THE ROSSONERI’S LEAD at the top of Serie A could be cut to 4 points if Napoli win against Juventus tonight, after drawing 4-4 at home with Udinese! Udinese took the lead in the first half through Di Natale, but Pato levelled it before half time. Despite going 3-1 down, Milan fought back to make it 3-3 before conceding late on. The game was not over though as substitute Antonio Cassano got his second assist to make it 4-4 with just seconds to spare.
Milan lined up with a fairly changed side due to injury. Marco Amelia replaced the injured Abbiati, The pretty much unchanged back line saw Abate, Bonera, Thiago Silva and Antonini in front of the Italian keeper. Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and Rodney strasser were the three behind Robinho in midfield, with Pato up front with Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who returned from suspension.
The game started off with Udinese pressing Milan all over the field, really taking the game to the home side and making it very difficult for the Rossoneri. Despite Udinese looking the better side early on, it was Milan who first threatened to score, Alexandre Pato firing a shot just over the bar from the left in the 10th minute of the game.
But then Udinese started taking the game by storm, and in the 25th minute, Goekhan Inler came close to giving the away side the lead – however, his long range drive narrowly went over the bar. Christian Zapata came close to making it 0-1 Udinese but his headed effort also went over the bar from Giovanni Pasquale’s ball in.
Udinese finally took the lead just 10 minutes before the end of the first half. Goekhan Inler struck goalwards but his shot deflected off the post, it fortuitously fell to the path of Antonio Di Natale though, who acrobatically volleyed it home to give Udinese the lead – there were some claims of offside but replays show that Luca Antonini kept him onside.
The goal did seem to wake up the rossoneri though – as they began to press hard for an equaliser. In the 40th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic blasted a free kick in to the wall, but three minutes later he received Ignazio Abate’s excellent cross, but was crowded out after bringing it down on his chest. Finally, he managed to deliver an inch-perfect cross to Pato, who finished well from inside the six yard box.
Despite starting off as the better side and coming close to taking the lead through a Robinho shot early on in the second half, it was Udinese who took the lead, Mauricio Isla crossed to the near post – however Alexis Sanchez was in the right place at the right time to header the away side into the lead.
As Milan pushed further and further forward for the equaliser, they were made to pay as Udinese scored on the counter. With two thirds of the game gone, Inler stole the ball from Clarence Seedorf, and then played an excellent ball through for Antonio Di Natale, who managed to shrug off Daniele Bonera, and slot the ball in to the back of the net.
With all hope seemingly lost, Antonio Cassano was brought on for the last 15 minutes, and although he wasn’t involved, Milan managed to pull one back within minutes of his substitution. The goal came from Thiago Silva whipping in a cross, which was deflected high up in to the air and over Samir Handanovic.
The Rossoneri completed an excellent comeback in the 81st minute, as Antonio Cassano managed to pick out Pato with a pass after picking the ball up from Thiago Silva, before the brazilian turned and fired the ball in to the bottom corner to level the scores! An excellent comeback!
Udinese were not down and out though – despite the late comeback they still had enough energy for one last attack, and as Isla delivered a cross in to the box after a counter-attack, Denis slotted home a would-be winner before injury time!
However, it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic who had the last say. In the 93rd minute, Ibrahimovic won a header, and knocked the ball down to the substitute Cassano. Cassano controlled the ball and slipped it back through for Ibrahimovic, who ingeniously turned the defender and slotted the ball in to the bottom corner.
This game had 2 key issues to consider. Firstly it further shows that Milan need a left back sooner rather than later – the entire defence bar Thiago Silva had a poor game, but Antonini in particular was poor. It also showed once again that Milan need a creative midfielder, however Milan cane take heart from the comeback, especially as it seemed all hope was lost – also, Cassano once again shone from the bench, which is another positive sign.
Best Moment: Ibra saving a point
Worst Moment: Denis’ goal to make it 3-4 for Udinese
Man of the Match: I’m going to give it to Cassano just for his instant impact.
By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog
Follow us on Twitter for More AC Milan news