FRANCO BRIENZA’S stoppage time goal proved to be a dagger to the heart of the AC Milan players and supporters everywhere as it claimed all 3 vital points for Atalanta, which Milan desperately needed to stay in the hunt for a EL spot.
The game could not have started any worse for the visitors at Bergamo as Atalanta pressured Milan from the starting whistle. Almost from the off a nice one-two from Atalanta finds Carmona making a nice run into the box but Milan’s beast Nigel de Jong made a great last ditch interception and broke up the play or who knows what would have happened.
The 10th minute saw Milan’s first chance of the game. Following an Atalanta attack, the Rossoneri start the break with striker Mario Balotelli collecting the ball in a great position. Midfielder Ricardo Kaka makes a masterful run behind the defense but proves unable to control Balotelli’s pass and the attack goes nowhere.
The game was kind of end to end after that for awhile with Milan threatening from set pieces the most as de Jong, who scored a lovely header in the last game, missed two chances to connect in the opening 20 minutes. The first was from a lovely set piece played in by Balotelli, while the second was from a corner that midfielder Keisuke Honda had taken.
From then on out German Denis took over for Atalanta and began dicing up the Milan defense. First it was in the 20th minute when the Argentinian could not get a proper head on the cross of teammate Davide Brivio. Three minutes later Atalanta rob Honda of possession and Brivio was able to play in Denis. The striker had his back to goal so he passed to midfield teammate Carlos Carmona who was unable to put any effort behind the shot and it was easily saved by Amelia.
The 30th minute saw another effort from Denis go begging as his left footed shot took a slight deflection off Milan defender Adil Rami and rolled harmlessly past the post. Five minutes later Maxmiliano Moralez is unlucky not to open the scoring when his flick on header from a free kick has Amelia beaten but whizzes just past the post.
Milan then began taking over the game shortly before half time and Captain Riccardo Montolivo finds Kaka in the box but the Brazilian hometown hero’s header is straight at Atalanta keeper Andrea Consigli. Two minutes later, Balotelli hits the bar when his free kick is barely tipped into the crossbar by Consigli. Just before halftime Balotelli tries another free kick and Atalanta’s shot stopper punches the ball to safety.
Out of the break came Milan’s best effort as fan favorite defender Mattia De Sciglio played in a beautiful cross from the right which found Kaka completely unmarked, but his header went wide. Milan take the lead on an own goal by Gianpaolo Bellini who was trying to clear midfielder Sulley Muntari’s cross but tipped the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 advantage.
The 66th minute saw exactly why left back Kevin Constant is a risk, as he clumsily runs over Carmona in the box and the ref points to the spot. Denis slots home from 12 yards away. The game then saw some ugly moments from French defender Philippe Mexes and Cristian Raimondi who both earned yellow cards for their confrontation.
The game traded some attacks on both ends but it was stoppage time that proved to be decisive. Before the go-ahead goal by Atalanta, Balotelli hit the post again as his effort from the corner of the penalty box smashes the post with keeper Consigli stuck in cinder blocks. Franco Brienza then put the game away five minutes later from a beautiful first time strike into the corner of the goal on what proved to be the final kick of the game.
For Milan the loss was a difficult one to swallow. With drama ensuing in the press all week between owner Berlusconi and manager Seedorf, it was a relief to finally watch the team play. The game was a welcoming back of sorts for Stephan El Shaarawy who made some nice runs and did some good things after his introduction in the second half.
All in all it was a dismal performance for the Diavolo who were counting on a win today to help their EL qualification chances. Those took a serious hit with this loss and proved to be yet again an instance where the team blows a lead.
As always Forza Milan!