Thursday, January 29, 2009

Late Milito Strike Forces A Draw With Milan After Stunning Beckham Free Kick

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Milan 1–1 Genoa

Milan hosted Genoa and were looking to gain revenge for the 2-0 defeat they suffered in their second game of the season, a result that has helped Genoa challenge for a top four finish. The Rossoneri were looking for the three points at home, as they attempted to cut their six-point deficit with Inter.

Diego Milito returned for fourth-placed Genoa last week, and prior to this match they had not lost since their defeat to Juventus on November 13. David Beckham has had a decent impact on the team since joining on loan from LA Galaxy. Beckham scored his first goal in a Milan shirt in Sunday's 4-1 win at Bologna and his contribution has helped make Milan a better team, riding high on the confidence gained with good results since the start of the new year, as well as the fact that they were able to hold onto star player Kaka.

First Half

The game began at a fast pace, and Milan showed their intentions immediately with a strike from Beckham on the edge of the area, but the Genoa keeper did well to dive and save. An attack in the 3rd minute saw Kaka come close to a shot on goal, but again Rubinho did well in the Genoa goal to clear the danger. Two minutes later Milan continued to apply pressure, and a great cross from Zambrotta was unlucky not to find the head of a team mate. Then it was Genoa’s turn to attack, and Diego Milito’s free kick in the 9th minute came agonizingly close to the target, but went just over the bar.

In the 11th minute Pato went on a fantastic run, showing his strength to bust through the Genoa defence and slot into goal, before being called back for a foul. The Brazilian was in confident mood, and he was causing the Rossoblu some problems. In the 14th minute Milan won a free kick and both Beckham and Pirlo stood over the ball, before the Italian rattled the cross bar with a stunning and unfortunate strike.

Milan’s pressure was impressive in the early stages, and in the 20th minute a cross from Zambrotta found Pato, who acrobatically turned and attempted a well timed bicycle kick, hitting the ball wide of the post. All the Genoa could manage at this point was a few counter attacks that were, for the most part, broken up by the midfield, with Ambrosini in particular doing a fine clean up job for the Rossoneri.

In the 25th minute Genoa won a corner, and the resulting cross from Juric found Bocchetti, whose powerful header was off target, but caused some gasps in the stands. In the 30th minute a disappointed Beckham received a yellow card after a tackle in midfield went wrong, but he would soon have a smile on his face, as only a minute later he scored a stunning free kick from a wide angle, fooling the goalkeeper and slotting into the near post.

Milan had an added air of confidence following the goal, and they continued to attack with creativity and vision, pushing the ball around well. Genoa would not give up however, and their counter attacks kept Milan on their toes. In the 42nd minute Genoa won a free kick and Thiago Motta cracked in a low shot, but Abbiati did well to get down and make the save. From the resulting counter attack a speedy Pato was brought down close to the box, and Pirlo’s second free kick of the match rattled the bar once again. The teams were sent into the change rooms with the score at 1-0 for the Rossoneri.

Second Half

Milan began the second half in the same way that they ended the first, applying pressure to the Genoa defence and playing attacking football. In the 48th minute Beckham had a second free kick from the same position as the goal, but his attempt was deflected and bounced invitingly across the area and past the onrushing Kaka. In the 54th minute Milan pushed forward in numbers, and a run from Kaka ended up with the Rossoneri winning a corner. Beckham’s cross from the corner found the head of Pato, but the Brazilian’s effort was blocked by the Genoa defence.

The Milan midfield did well to control the tempo of the game, while pushing forward and keeping Genoa pinned back in defence, with only a few attacks dotting the landscape of this game for the visitors. In the 56th minute substitute Vanden Borre found space for a shot on goal, but the strike did not trouble Abbiati, who caught the ball with ease. A few minutes later Milito attempted a shot from outside the area, but Favalli did well to block his effort.

By the 63rd minute Genoa had made use of all three of their substitutions, and the team was beginning to look tired, as Pato continued to run them ragged with the enthusiasm of a kid. Genoa became more threatening after the hour mark, as desperate attacks put the Rossoneri under pressure. In the 69th minute Pato found space and ran at the Genoa goal, but the youngster wasted the chance with a chip from outside the area that Rubinho easily stopped.

Two minutes later Abbiati saved the day with a well timed save that took the ball away from Jankovic who was alone in front of the goal. In the 75th minute Pato left the pitch to make space for Ronaldinho, but the substitution was met with a few jeers from the crowd, as Pato had played fantastically well for the Rossoneri. Two minutes later Ronaldinho took a fantastic free kick from the wing, and his shot was deflected out for a corner.

Maldini displayed the class that has seen him at the top of his game for 25 seasons, keeping the Genoa attack at bay, before a flying Abbiati denied a header from Milito in spectacular fashion. The game was still being played at a fast pace in these final stages, and three minutes before the end of the match Milito stepped up to slot the ball into goal and tie the match up at 1-1. The game was killed off with this surprise equaliser, and after three minutes of injury time the match ended in a draw.


GOALS: Beckham 32’ (Milan) Milito 87’ (Genoa)

MILAN: Abbiati, Zambrotta, Maldini, Favalli, Jankulovski, Beckham (Favalli 70’), Pirlo, Ambrosini, Seedorf (Senderos 79’), Kaka, Pato (Ronaldinho 75’).

GENOA: Rubinho, Modesto (Jankovic 39’), Biava, Bocchetti, Mesto, Milanetto, Juric, Criscito, Thiago (Vanden Borre 46’), Milito, Sculli (Palladino 63’).

Peter Pedroncelli,