Sunday, March 30, 2008

Serie A Week 31:Milan 1 - 2 Atalanta

Serie A Week 31 - 30/3/08 (14.00 UK)
Milan 1 - 2 Atalanta
Floccari 32 (A), Langella 42 (A), Maldini 84 (M)
Stadio San Siro


Andrea Pirlo's last-gasp penalty was saved as another disastrous Milan home performance further dampened their Champions League hopes.

The Rossoneri lost to local rivals Atalanta in January's rescheduled game and were desperate to avoid a similar outcome with the Champions League spots four points away going into this weekend. Kaka, Ronaldo, Pippo Inzaghi, Marcos Cafu, Emerson, Marek Jankulovski and Serginho were in a packed treatment room, while Moris Carrozzieri and Coach Gigi Del Neri sat out bans for the visitors. Atalanta's last Serie A victory here was a 1-0 result on March 17, 1991.

Gennaro Gattuso scored against Atalanta in January and almost did it again after eight minutes, but he blasted a poor clearance over the bar from the D.

Alberto Gilardino nodded over when Massimo Ambrosini was in a better position behind him, then Gattuso flicked on an Alexandre Pato cross a little too long for Clarence Seedorf to go clear on goal.

Gilardino had not scored at San Siro in nearly a year and chested down the ball to test Fernando Coppola at the near post.

Instead, Atalanta took the lead with their first real chance. Ferreira Pinto got away down the right and rolled across for the unmarked Sergio Floccari to come sliding in. Zeljko Kalac got a touch to the first effort, but could do nothing on the second as the Milan defence was caught ball-watching. Massimo Oddo claimed he had been fouled in the lead-up, but the linesman and referee waved play on.

Thomas Manfredini replaced the injured Leo Talamonti, but the San Siro crowd was jeering a dreadful Rossoneri performance. Andrea Pirlo tested Coppola with a free kick, but they had precious little to offer.

In an almost identical move to the one Sampdoria scored in their 2-1 win here a fortnight ago, Atalanta struck again on the counter. Floccari drew three defenders and passed for Antonio Langella to beat an Oddo challenge and fire past Kalac at the near post!

It should have been 0-3 in stoppages, but Ferreira Pinto ballooned over totally unmarked from Langella's cross. Carlo Ancelotti made two changes with Alberto Paloschi and Kakha Kaladze coming on.

Seedorf was already celebrating an equaliser after the restart when Coppola palmed Paloschi's shot into his path, but the Dutchman was flagged offside. However, replays suggest Langella was keeping Seedorf in play.

Soon after Coppola parried a Gattuso effort and Pato passed straight to the goalkeeper from Paloschi's headed assist. Milan looked like a different team and were pouring forward in waves, but this left space for the counter-attack and Cristiano Doni incredibly fired over when totally clear on goal from nine yards on Ferreira Pinto's assist.

Paolo Maldini had to clear from six yards when Langella was allowed all the space and time he wanted to go on the counter, while Kalac was at full stretch to deny another shot from the former Cagliari winger.

Pato scuffed a volley and Seedorf's shot was deflected out for a corner. Massimo Ambrosini thought he had got them back into it on 77 minutes with a header from a corner kick, but it was disallowed for a push on goalkeeper Coppola. Ambrosini was also booked for dissent.

Soon after Ambrosini nodded over the bar, but the goal came with six minutes to go. It was an unusual scorer, as Maldini got a free header from eight yards on a corner that squirmed through Coppola's hands at the near post.

Yet Simone Inzaghi went on the counter and brought a difficult save out of Kalac. It was a chaotic finale, as Alessandro Nesta was sent off for dissent and moments later Ambrosini was brought down by a Guarente sliding tackle. The referee pointed to the spot without hesitation and Pirlo stepped up, but his penalty was well saved by Coppola!


Milan: Kalac; Oddo (Brocchi 59), Nesta, Maldini, Favalli (Kaladze 46); Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf; Pato, Gilardino (Paloschi 46)

Atalanta: Coppola; Rivalta, Pellegrino, Talamonti (Manfredini 33), Bellini; Ferreira Pinto, Tissone, Guarente, Langella (Padoin 69); Doni; Floccari (S Inzaghi 82)

Ref: Brighi

Sent off: Nesta 87 (M)

Missed penalty: Pirlo 89 (M)

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