THE ROSSONERI failed to extend their lead at the top of the Serie A to 6 points earlier tonight, as they drew 1-1 with Lecce. Despite taking the lead through a spectacular volley from Ibrahimovic, poor defending at a corner meant Olivera could equalise for the home side, meaning Milan only left with a point.
Milan lined up in a familiar 4-3-1-2, Amelia started behind the usual 3 of Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva – with Daniele Bonera playing at left back this week. In midfield, Gattuso, Ambrosini and Flamini played as a result of Pirlo still being injured, whilst Clarence Seedorf lined up behind Pato and Ibrahimovic to make up the attack.
The game started in a fairly lacklustre fashion, with neither side particularly dominating the opening 10 minutes. However, Milan did have more possession than the home side, despite not really putting it to much use early on. That said Lecce did occasionally look dangerous on the counter as the Rossoneri’s passing was a bit sloppy at times.
Despite still having more of the ball, Milan’s passing in general was poor. The Rossoneri failed to create any real chances in the next 10 minutes too, and all though the midfield broke up play well, they struggled to keep the ball, or create any scoring oppertunities for the strikers. Milan finally had a decent effort in the 21st minute, but Gennaro Gattuso’s shot across goal went wide.
It was only really Flamini and Abate who looked lively for Milan – a point which was demonstrated with 27 minutes on the clock. After Nesta was caught in possession high up field, it was Ignazio Abate who sprinted back and put in an excellent sliding tackle to block the shot of Grossmüller.
Milan began piling on the pressure as the half came close to the end. Finally Ibrahimovic sparked into life, firstly by nutmegging two players in passing the ball to Pato (unfortunately nothing came from it) but moments later, Ibra took on several Lecce players and ran at their back 4 in the box, after beating 3 defenders he shaped to shoot but frustratingly his shot was blocked well, keeping the scores level.
The half ended goalless – rather unsurprisingly to be honest. Despite having more of the ball, Milan didn’t create very much, and many attacks broke down before reaching the edge of Lecce’s penalty area. Lecce had looked occasionnally threatening, but Milan at least defended and broke up play quite well – Abate probably Milan’s best player in the first half.
Just moments in to the second half, Milan finally broke the deadlock and took the lead thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Antonio Rosati was left helpless in Lecce’s goal, as Ibrahimovic beat Vives to the ball before chesting it down and spectacularly volleying it in to the top corner from 25 yards out! An outrageous and brilliant piece of skill from Ibra, who once again sparked Milan in to life – and in to the lead!
Milan continued to dominate from then on, and had a few half chances, but nothing of significance. In the 60th minute, Clarence Seedorf went down injured in Lecce’s penalty area, but Lecce continued despite the dutchman writhing in agony – On the counter Lecce sub Giacomazzi forced an outstadning one handed save from Marco Amelia after a scramble in Milan’s box, however, Nesta cleared well after Amelia’s reflex save, and it remained 0-1.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Antonio Cassano was brought on off the bench – replacing Alexandre Pato. The Brazilian had been fairly uninvolved in the game (though it wasn’t entirely his fault) but surely it would have made more sense to take off Seedorf who was playing worse, and had taken a knock just minutes earlier? Nonetheless, Allegri was making a positive change hoping to double the lead and wrap up the game.
As time went on Lecce started to get back in to it more, and started pressing Milan a bit higher up the pitch. Superb defending from Daniele Bonera – and in particular Ignazio Abate – kept them out and restricted them to just corners.
Unfortunately, with just 8 minutes to go, Davide Di Michele’s shot deflected fortuitously off Alessandro Nesta, and struck the post on it’s way out for a corner. From the resulting corner Milan were caught napping by the home side. A good ball in managed to find Olivera, who punished the slack defending by heading the equalizer for Lecce. Milan had 7 minutes and injury time to rescue 2 points.
Ignazio Abate was like a man on a mission, and just moments after the call he stormed down the right and then picked out Clarence Seedorf at the edge of the box. The dutchman brought the ball under control well, and Struck it goalwards only to be blocked on the line!
After a Lecce counter Milan started their own counter attack – Antonio Cassano picked the ball up in space on the right, took on the Lecce full back before aiming a ball in to the box. Cassano’s low cross found Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who struck the ball goalwards first time, but Rosati pulled off a fine reflex save to keep the scores level! Milan were piling on the pressure!
Milan threw everything they could forward, and were almost caught out on the counter once, but they still couldn’t score. The final chance of the game was a cross in to the box from a free kick. Cassano was the man tasked with delivering it, and he did well, but Ibrahimovic was unable to direct his header on target as he had to come across a defender to get to it.
Despite immense pressure at the end, the game ended 1-1, Milan were unable to get the 3 points. The first half was a boring affair, but Ibrahimovic’s wondergoal livened up the match – sadly 1 sloppy corner and failure to take other chances cost Milan dearly. Perhaps Allegri should have taken Seedorf off for Pato, but Seedorf played better and better as the game drew to a close so how much difference it would’ve made is unknown really.
Best Moment: Ibra’s amazing goal
Worst Moment: the equaliser from Olivera
Man of the Match: Ignazio Abate – don’t think he put a foot wrong all night, and did well going forward too.
By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog