THE ROSSONERI dropped 3 points earlier tonight, as they lost 1-0 to Palermo in their first game without Ibrahimovic. After a lapse in concentration at the back, Palermo took the lead in the first half through Goian, but Milan failed to strike back, and lost all 3 points in Sicily – to cap it all off, Alexandre Pato was forced off with an injury (more news to follow on that).
With injuries to key players and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension, Milan were looking a bit below strength, but with Milan’s excellent squad depth, the side didn’t look too weak! Abbiati started once more in goal, behind Jankulovski, Thiago Silva, Nesta and Abate, with a midfield trio of Van Bommel, Flamini and Gattuso. In attack, Clarence Seedorf started behind the front pairing of Alexandre Pato and Antonio Cassano.
The game started off at a decent pace, but Palermo had the better of the early exchanges. However, just 10 minutes in, Palermo looked to continue their superb record at home to Milan by taking the lead. After some poor marking in Milan’s box, the ball fell to Goian, who controlled it, took a touch and blasted it past Abbiati from a very close range. It seemed at first that he was offside, however, replays showed that Mark van Bommel had just about played him on when the ball was played.
Just moments after the goal, Milan could have been level! After a corner kick due to a save from a Flamini shot, Clarence Seedorf thought quickly, and took the corner along the ground. Palermo failed to pick up Flamini’s run, and the frenchman came across and diverted the ball across the box just a yard or two off the line. The ball swept across the face of goal, but nobody got a touch! Nesta had slid in late, but didn’t get a touch on the ball, and so, the score remained 1-0 Palermo.
Less than a quarter of an hour in to the game, and Marek Jankulovski was forced off with an injury – in his place, Allegri brought in Luca Antonini, who had been expected to start the game by most of the press.
Milan were struggling to get going, though they did at least improve after the Palermo goal. With 25 minutes on the clock, they bean to press more, and seemed more urgent, but Flamini’s decent effort to win a corner was the only chance created – at least the defence had seemingly woken upand looked more comfortable at dealing with Palermo.
The Rossoneri finally made a good chance for themselves with just over half an hour gone. After a superbly weighted through ball, Antonio Cassano found himself inside the right hand side of the penalty area in a little bit of space with the ball. However, the Italian rushed his effort and ended up skying it over the bar. Meanwhile Palermo looked very dangerous on the counter, as they sat back since taking the lead, ready to pounce when Milan lost the ball upfield.
Disappointingly, it seemed Milan’s defence had fallen asleep again nearing the 40 minute mark. After some poor defending, Palermo could have doubled their lead after Javier Pastore knocked the ball back down, but Palermo failed to capitalise. As Milan scrambled it away, Gattuso foolishly gave the ball away inside the Rossoneri area! Mercifully, Nocerino failed to do anything with it, and the score remained 1-0 to Palermo.
The second half continued in a similar fashion to the first. Milan did have one decent half chance 5 minutes in though – after a decent turn of pace from Clarence Seedorf (who’d drifted wide right) the ball was played in the box by him, and Cassano was found unmarked at the back post! However, the ball sat up awkwardly for him as he tried to bring it down, and couldn’t get over the ball enough as he attempted to volley it, meaning it was a poor effort on goal. Allegri decided to mix it up and brought on Kevin-Prince Boateng for Van Bommel.
Palermo could easily have doubled their lead with just over 56 minutes gone. After a quick counter, Palermo found themselves on the break, some brilliant defending from Thiago Silva forced them to go wide, and Pastore was at the left hand edge of Milan’s box. The highly rated Argentine flashed the ball across goal, but nobody could get on the end of it! Milan were looking quite vulnerable now. Despite this, Milan still had a lot of possession, so Allegri decided to shift Seedorf to a deeper role, more like the one he impressed in against Spurs.
The Rossoneri very nearly equalised with 65 minutes on the clock, just a minute after Pato was forced off with injury (so Allegri brought on Robinho). After a lovely play between Abate and Robinho, Robinho played the ball in to the box for Mathieu Flamini – the Frenchman struck it first time and it was curling goalwards, a great effort! But Salvatore Sirigu was up to the task and dived well high to his right to make the save and to keep Palermo in the lead.
Milan were beginning to dominate now, and were finally looking the better side. Robinho’s influence was instantly recognisable, and the Rossoneri were looking much improved. With nearly 70 minutes on the clock, Robinho drifted wide, and fired the ball in to the box with a cross/shot. Salvatore Sirigu was alert and managed to block it, however, he was very fortunate in the way that the ball bounced away from danger, despite Milan having many players in the box waiting to pounce.
Amazingly, it was Gennaro Gattuso was the next to come close to giving Milan the lead, however, that’s all he did – come close to giving Milan the lead. After a fantastic ball in from the left, Gennaro Gattuso was found in unusual territory, running late in to the box towards the near post! The Italian managed to meet the ball, and direct a difficult header goalwards, it was a very good effort and seemed destined for the net, but once again Salvatore Sirigu pulled out a top drawer save to keep Palermo ahead!
Despite 4 minutes of added time, the Rossoneri failed to score and failed to even salvage a point, despite having more possession and looking like the better side for large parts of the game, Palermo took their chance, sat back and counter attacked well, whilst Milan missed Zlatan Ibrahimovic (and Robinho should have started too)
Best Moment: Gattuso’s header
Man of the Match: Thiago Silva, the only Milan player who can hold is head up high after that game
By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog