Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mil 3-1 Cag: Super Pippo revives Milan

Serie A Week 32 - 5/4/08 (19.30 UK)
Milan 3 - 1 Cagliari
Kaka 8 (M), Inzaghi 31, 69 (M), Conti 49 (C)
Stadio San Siro


Kaka and brace hero Pippo Inzaghi marked their comebacks by taking Milan to a sorely needed 3-1 win over Cagliari, but Zeljko Kalac was left red-faced.

The Rossoneri were in dire straits with consecutive home defeats to Sampdoria and Atalanta, while they were missing the suspended Alessandro Nesta and injured Alexandre Pato, Ronaldo, Alberto Gilardino, Emerson, Serginho, Massimo Oddo and Marek Jankulovski. Carlo Ancelotti opted for a 4-4-2 system despite the fact he had no wide men in the squad. Cagliari are staging an incredible comeback in a four-match unbeaten run, but had not won here in 11 years.

Ancelotti demanded a strong start and he got it, as in 25 seconds Gennaro Gattuso fired over.

Kaka made his comeback after a calf problem and immediately made the difference. The World and European Player of the Year sprinted forward surrounded by Cagliari shirts for around 20 metres and smashed a right-foot finish into the near bottom corner.

Massimo Ambrosini was tripped right on the line and the referee awarded a free kick, although technically the line is part of the area and so it could well have been a penalty.

Kakha Kaladze was booked and will be suspended for the Juventus game, as will Nesta.

Pippo Inzaghi has been out injured for two months, but marked his comeback with a goal, too. A corner kick was whipped in for Inzaghi's header from seven yards that bounced off the ground to beat Marco Storari, but the marking from Cagliari was poor.

Gattuso was so close to a third goal moments later. Kaka and Clarence Seedorf spread the play for Gattuso to come tearing in, but two Cagliari defenders flung themselves at his feet to act as human shields and deny a certain goal.

Milan passed the ball around quickly and Kaka stung Storari's palms with a powerful right-foot strike from Andrea Pirlo's assist. Kaka also curled a left-foot gem inches wide of the far top corner, as he was spreading his range all across the final third.

Cagliari made two changes at the break for a more attacking formation, but it was a Milan player who handed them a goal. Zeljko Kalac's howler allowed a Daniele Conti free kick to squirm out of his hands and under his body when the ball was already in his grasp!

Moments later both Conti and Parola had shots charged down, then Kalac pushed a Pasquale Foggia shot out for a corner from a tight angle.

At the other end Inzaghi volleyed a Seedorf cross off target, but Cagliari nearly returned Kalac's favour as Diego Lopez's header back to his 'keeper almost turned into an own goal and floated inches past the post.

Former Milan youth product Alessandro Matri's overhead kick was wide, but there was more bad news for the Rossoneri as Giuseppe Favalli limped off with a suspected thigh strain. Marcos Cafu came on, moving Daniele Bonera to left-back.

Cagliari threatened an equaliser as Matri got in front of Cafu to meet a Foggia cross, but scuffed his shot from seven yards.

Gattuso was stretchered off with a bruised knee and was replaced by Cristian Brocchi, but was able to walk off the field after treatment.

Milan restored their two-goal cushion with a goal of sheer determination from Super Pippo Inzaghi. He sprung the offside trap and dribbled round Storari. The goalkeeper got a touch to it and he lost his footing, but he got back up, turned and steered the ball into the net despite three Cagliari defenders in his path.

Kaka sent Seedorf clear on goal, but the Dutchman slipped up and the chance went begging. The strain was starting to show on Milan, as Pirlo was the final player substituted, but Kaka and Ambrosini were both asking to be taken off.

Robert Acquafresca almost made the most of a weak backpass, while Storari smothered a Daniele Bonera strike. Kalac did better on another Conti free kick this time, capturing it at the near post.

Kaka almost completed his brace too in stoppages, a splendid right-foot curler palmed out of the top corner by Storari.


Milan: Kalac; Bonera, Kaladze, Maldini, Favalli (Cafu 61); Gattuso (Brocchi 66), Pirlo (Gourcuff 75), Ambrosini; Seedorf; Kakà, Inzaghi

Cagliari: Storari; Ferri, Lopez, Canini, Agostini; Fini (Parola 46), Conti (Acquafresca 74), Biondini; Cossu (Jeda 46); Foggia, Matri

Ref: Rosetti

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