Archive for September 22nd, 2007

Serie A matchday 4 Saturday – Milan stumble again, and Di Natale is on a roll!!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Serie AWhen it comes to AC Milan’s recent performances, the term “mixed success” immediately springs to mind. While the Rossoneri have been riveting and virtually unstoppable in Europe (see the matches against Sevilla in the Super Cup and Benfica in Champions League), their Serie A campaign just endured yet another set-back against Parma, as Ancelotti’s men drew their 3rd consecutive match in the Italian league. Meanwhile, Udinese striker Totò Di Natale is just having the time of his life. Two goals against Ukraine, followed by the winning tally against Juve last week-end, and now another double which gives Udinese another precious 3 points and puts them right back on track in their quest for Europe.

Serie A day 4 - Saturday scores

The fact that, once again, Milan striker Alberto Gilardino was sitting on the bench for the start of this match, was no surprise to anyone. While Gila is still hunting for his lost form, Filippo Inzaghi made yet another appearance for the Rossoneri, hoping to increase his goal total. Pippo is currently 13th with 83 goals in the all-time scoring ranks of the Italian ‘Red & Black Devils’, way behind Gunnar Nordahl and his 221 tallies. The rest of Carlo Ancelotti‘s team was composed of the ‘usual suspects’, with the exception of Daniele Bonera replacing Kakha Kaladze as a central back, and Cristian Brocchi on for the injured Gennaro Gattuso. Parma and their coach Domenico Di Carlo on the other hand, opted for a well-tested 4-3-3 formation with Reginaldo-Corradi-Pisanu as the attacking trio. In defense, Damiano Zenoni was preferred to Ferdinand Coly.

Pippo Inzaghi tried to find the net in every possible way todayThe early minutes of this match were clear evidence of AC Milan’s dual nature this season: all the exuberant verve and energy from their European exploits seemed gone in the Rossoneri, who had to face yet another determined team who wasn’t ready to bow down to the European champions. It must be said, the playmaking ability of Ancelotti’s men was much better than what we had witnessed in the Siena game, thanks notably to the added presence of Andrea Pirlo and Kaká in the Milan line-up. However, Parma was extremely able in exploiting any space that the Milan midfield conceded, forcing the Rossoneri backline to constantly be on their guard.

The initial exchanges in the game landed to Milan’s favor, who despite a few troubles managed nonetheless to produce the first scoring chances. Inzaghi was always dangerous in flirting with the offside line, and was perhaps unlucky in the sometimes poor assessment of the officiating staff (both chances he obtained, the first from a Kakà cross from the right, then from a Pirlo pass from the edge of the box to the far post -respectively shot on the keeper and hitting the post- were called offside). Milan’s captain Massimo Ambrosini was also very active in the offensive third, and combined beautifully with Clarence Seedorf to create some space, only to send his smashing blast from the edge of the box narrowly wide.

Clarence Seedorf celebrates after the goalAt the 44′ minute mark, Milan decided to strike. A beautiful cross by Kakà was delivered to Inzaghi, who attempted a direct volley from close-range. Parma keeper Nicola Pavarini couldn’t hold the ball, Stefano Morrone tried to clear it, but his slide tackle hit Clarence Seedorf from point-blank range. The Dutch midfielder, who had intelligently anticipated the clearance, was thus able to put Milan in the lead shortly before half-time, and celebrate the newly named ‘Seedorf plaza’ in his Dutch hometown of Almere. Parma immediately had the opportunity to equalize before the break, but Morrone’s chance to redeem his mistake was thwarted by his poor finish, as the midfielder slipped aiming his shot.

Seedorf’s scavenger goal came at a perfect time, and could have put Milan on a downhill slope to win the game in the 2nd half. Ancelotti’s men still had some trouble with their passing in midfield, which progressively allowed the Gialloblu to regain their confidence. Seeing that his men were still battling it out, but crucially lacked penetration power in the final third, Di Carlo decided to let Parravicini and Dessena on for Cigarini and Matteini. A move which managed to have the desired effect and gave Parma considerably more offensive options. Ancelotti tried to contain the midfield leak by inserting Emerson for Brocchi, but to no effect because eventually Parma’s efforts were going to be rewarded.

Andrea Pisanu, age 25Obtaining the ball on the left wing, Parma’s Brazilian winger Reginaldo somehow managed to get rid of Nesta and deliver a perfect low cross for Giuseppe Pisanu. The one-time left-foot instepper of the Gialloblu striker eluded Dida‘s guard, and found the twine to put Parma level. 1-1. The game’s momentum had suddenly shifted, and Di Carlo’s men could have incredibly even taken the lead a few minutes later, had Jankulovski‘s heroic challenge not prevented Pisanu’s volleyed effort from close-range.

15 minutes from the end, Ancelotti opted for desperation by sending in Gilardino for Seedorf. The 2-striker Milan formation is something the San Siro faithful hadn’t seen in quite a while, but it did little to re-invigorate the Rossoneri’s luck. Instead, commenced a somewhat sad gallery of missed chances, from Kaká and Inzaghi to Couto and Corradi, passing by Gilardino. Milan’s ‘sad man’ had the chance to win it in the 94th but was denied his liberating goal by the great reflexes of keeper Pavarini. Clearly (once again) not his night, nor AC Milan’s.


AC Milan
 F.C. Parma
GOALSCORERS: 44′ Seedorf (M), 73’ Pisanu (P)
MILAN (4-3-2-1): Dida – Oddo (80’ Cafù), Nesta, Bonera, Jankulovski – Brocchi (67’ Emerson), Pirlo, Ambrosini – Kakà, Seedorf (75’ Gilardino) – F.Inzaghi (bench: Kalac, Kaladze, Favalli, Gourcuff). Coach: Ancelotti.
PARMA (4-3-3): Pavarini – Zenoni, Falcone, Couto, Castellini – Dessena (64’ Matteini), Parravicini (60’ Cigarini), Morrone – Reginaldo, Corradi, Pisanu (80’ Coly) (bench: Radek, Rossi, Tombesi, Paponi). Coach: Di Carlo.


Meanwhile, if Italy coach Roberto Donadoni was watching the Udinese-Reggina match, he must have been rubbing his hands with a big grin on his face: Antonio Di Natale is having one hell of a good moment. Key passes, accelerations, inventive plays… and most importantly, lots of goals. Just two today but top quality stuff from the Napoli native, who in the space of two weeks has wiped clean Udinese’s humiliating 5-0 loss to Napoli, and brought back their hopes of European qualification (ok the season just started, but you know what I mean).

Di Natale is so hot right now he realizes asphalt has a liquid stateIt only took very little time for the Di Natale-show to begin: exploiting some space at the corner of the box, the Udinese’s striker genius spotted keeper Andrea Campagnolo off the line and delighted the Stadio Friuli fans with looping chipped shot. 1-0 Udinese, with just 5 minutes on the clock! Ensued a series of chances for the Bianconeri to double the lead, but the Udinese fans were waiting for only one thing: that HE be the one to score. Shortly into the 2nd half, Di Natale went to work again: exploiting a good aerial through ball, the striker had a perfect first touch before executing a volleyed shot far where Campagnolo couldn’t reach. 2-0 Udinese, and Di Natale’s second pearl of the game. He almost couldn’t believe it himself.

It’s a good thing for Udinese that Totò is in top form, because despite the cascade of scoring chances they obtained, Gyan Asamoah and Fabio Quagliarella seem to be stuck in a poor accuracy / bad luck streak. The ex-Sampdoria striker notably is struggling with his new tactical role (switching from a 4-4-2 line-up at Samp to a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3), but that is not enough of an excuse for some of the easy chances the talented Quagliarella is missing. Almost looks like a “Gilardino syndrome”. Perhaps the return to Marassi next week (for the Genoa game) will be a good occasion to get back on track.


 Udinese Calcio
 Reggina Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 5′, 62’ Di Natale (U)
UDINESE (3-4-3): Handanovic – Zapotocny, Coda, Zapata – Mesto, D’Agostino, Inler, Dossena – Quagliarella, Asamoah (75’ Floro Flores), Di Natale (83’ Pepe). (bench: Chimenti, Ferronetti, Lukovic, Felipe, Pinzi, Eremenko). Coach: Marino.
REGGINA (4-3-3): Campagnolo – Stadsgaard, Lanzaro, Aronica, Modesto – Cascione, Barreto, Halfredsson (73’ Tognozzi), Vigiani (46’ Joelson) – Tullberg (46’ Cozza), Amoruso. (bench: Novakovic, Cherubin, Ceravolo, Montiel). Coach: Ficcadenti


MISN – Summer Lachine QUARTER FINALS (vs. Atletico ME)

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Ricard, unofficial sponsor of MISN Impossible

MISN? What’s this?

Hello MISN,

On Thursday September 20th we played game the QUARTER-FINALS of the Summer 2007 Lachine indoor league, vs. Atletico ME.

So despite Tevin’s efforts to reason with Bryan, our 0-5 default loss against Cyclone FC was maintained, as well as the 2-game suspensions for Imad and myself. If you ask me, a very unfair decision given the circumstances, but not much we could do it except shut up and swallow it. 

So here are the Division 1 final league standings. You’ll notice that Trakia lost their last game, meaning we could have ended up tied with them and had a shot at the league champions title. No matter, we’ll just have to prove we’re the better team in the playoffs.

Division 1 final rankings

So because of our 2nd spot, this week we would be playing the 7th-ranked team, Atletico ME (the bottom 2 teams are eliminated). Our opponents for the day were a pretty good level team, which had ended the season with 74 goals scored and 58 conceded. On top of that the Atletico ME roster included many players from McGill (several of which we were friends with) as well as many teammates of the Ghouleh bros’ former team (Swift). So it was going to be a difficult & challenging match, but against friendly opposition!

Attendance-wise, we had a mini-emergency in defense due to the absence of Marco and Imad (suspended), as well as Bruno (away to Ottawa). We therefore called on the emergency services of Denis once again, and after an absence of over 1 month Zaid also returned to the starting lineup. Lastly, we finally got Güven back from his Turkish holiday!

1) Absent long-term: Saad, Renaud, Can
2) Injured long-term: Amer, Tevin, Santi
3) N/A this week: Nafee, Abbes, Danny, Marco, Imad, Bruno, Simiso, Sami

Here was our line-up:

Denis / Zaid
Kevin / Alex
Güven / Jonny
AC / Ludo

So once again (and despite all the absences) we were able to field two full lines in defense/offense with 2 substitutes for each. As it would turn out, we would need each and every one of our players because the game at hand did not turn out to be easy.

Both teams started the game well-organized on the field, using the first couple of minutes to study their opponents and plan their tactical approach. The Atletico strikers were pressuring our defense very often, forcing them to get rid of the ball quickly, but that in turn created a lot of space in midfield which our own offensive players would then rapidly exploit. As a result, the first chance of the game would be for MISN‘s side.

As we obtained a corner-kick from the right, the ball was delivered into the box. Deflected up by the defender, it eventually reached Jonny on the 2nd post, prompting out French stirker to go for the powerful volley! Over the bar!! Near miss, but a good way to say we meant business!

MISN celebrate their first goal by BardiaAbout 10 minutes into the game, the ‘Boys in Blue’ went ahead. With MISN in possession, the ball was fed to Alex on the left wing and as our Greek left-back looked around for the pass, he took one step forward and decided to go for the shot. Alex’s powerful drive was parried away by the Atletico keeper, but only as far as Bardia who then attempted to go for the rebound. At this point I think the keeper parried again but struggled to get to the ball, allowing our Iranian playmaker to take possession and tap it in!! 1-0 MISN!

Unfortunately, it didn’t take Atletico very long to equalize. Through on our left wing, one of the Atletico strikers took the ball from midfield, and tried to feed the pass to his left. Our defense intercepted but had trouble clearing, so eventually the ball came back to the opposing striker, who despite some close marking by our defenders managed to place a hard shot onto the far post, where Jan couldn’t reach. 1-1.

It was a shame to have conceded the goal, because up to that point we had played better than our opponents. Before half-time, we had the chance to restore our lead when Jonny obtained a good pass and accelerated forward on the left wing. One-on-one with the keeper, our French striker tried a low shot to the opposite end but the Atletico nº1 kept his balance, and managed to deflect into corner.

1-1 the Half Time score. The game had been 50-50 for a good part of 1st period, but eventually MISN had taken control and scored. However, Atletico’s quick response had sort of broken our momentum, so the challenge for the 2nd half was to build it up again in order to regain the lead. 

5 minutes after the restart, with MISN in possession Güven obtained the ball in the center. Taking a small step forward, he then tried to surprise the keeper from long-range, but was denied the goal as the opposing nº1 parried into corner. MISN kept pounding at Atletico’s goal for the ensuing minutes, and eventually got rewarded for their efforts.

From a kick-in on the right by Güven, the ball was quickly delivered to the center in front of the box. Waiting for the cross to drop, AC armed a rotating instepper which surprised the keeper and entered the net to the right!! A nice finish for the 2-1 MISN lead!!!

Jon and Kevin heroically get in the way of the striker’s shot during Atletico’s final assaultThere were about 10-15 minutes left in the game at this point, so the key was not to make any silly mistakes in defense, and keep our strikers acceleration-ready when a counter-attack would present itself. We obtained yet another chance to score & put the victory on ice as the ball was passed down the right for Güven, who then looked up and delivered a short pass to the edge of the box. Bardia armed his shot from close-range, but his delivery from a good position was over the bar! So close!

At this point, the Atletico players redoubled their efforts in our zone in order to obtain the equalizer. The MISN defense was under a lot of pressure, and we also had a line-up problem with regards to our strikers (which were either too far -producing a big gap in midfield- or too close, allowing our opponents to step deep into our zone). We managed to hold tight though.

With about 3-4 minutes to go, disaster happened. With our opponents in possession, the ball was passed to an Atletico striker to the right wing. With two of MISN‘s player marking him, the striker took one step towards the center and curled an amazing shot to the far post. Jan stretched as far as he could but couldn’t reach the ball. 2-2.

The equalizer was a pretty bad slap in the face for MISN, and Atletico had now the upper hand in terms of momentum. Pushing forward in numbers, they multiplied their attemps from mid-range but our defense was absolutely heroic in stepping in front of the shots. And whenever a shot managed to filter through, our keeper Jan was ready to parry away the danger.

Jan prevented an almost certain goal with some fantastic reflexesIn the last minute, with only 2 players up in offense our opponents obtained a kick-in. The cross somehow managed to reach the lone Atletico striker to the 2nd post!! His hard bouncing header is however parried away by an amazing save by our keeper Jan, in superman version for this game!!!

We almost had a heart attack on that last play, but the referee eventually called full time on the 2-2 scoreline, to send the game into a penalty shootout. Unlike outdoor soccer, the Lachine league’s shootouts have only 3 shooters, which have to be selected before it begins. We chose our shooters to be Jonny, Güven, and AC.

Atletico won the toss and decided to go first.

The penalty shootout lottery begins

For their 1st shot, the Atletico player took a short run and blasted the ball hard below the bar. 0-1.
Jonny was first for MISN. Eyeing the keeper, he hit a hard shot low into the left bottom corner. Keeper dove the right way but couldn’t reach the ball. 1-1.

On came the 2nd Atletico shooter, who took a very long run from the spot. Everyone from our team whispered “he’s gonna blast it”, almost like a prophecy… which proved to be dead-on! The shot was an absolute howitzer, but our keeper Jan was ready! Staying in the middle, he was able to parry the hard shot away!! Still 1-1!!!
We now had the chance to go ahead!! Güven was up. He took a short run, and placed an accurate shot into the bottom right corner!! Bull’s eye!!! 2-1 for MISN!!!

For their 3rd shot, the Atletico player had a lot of pressure on his shoulders (because if he missed, MISN had won!) but he cooly sent Jan the wrong way to equalize the goalcount. 2-2.
3rd and last shot for MISN now, with the chance to end this game!!! So far, AC had never missed a P.K. shot for his new team… the opposing keeper tried to destabilize our Turkish striker by meeting him on the spot before the ball was placed… AC placed an accurate shot towards the bottom right corner, but… the keeper guessed right! Diving to his left he managed to block the shot!!! ARRRGHH!!! 2-2 still.

So we had to select another shooter. We chose Jon.

Before though, Atletico had to go first. The 4th shooter was a lefty, and much like their 2nd player he took a long run before his shot. This time it wasn’t central, but mid-height to the right… but once again our keeper Jan chose the right way!!! Extending his arms up he managed the save!!!!!! Still 2-2!!!!
This time, momentum and morale had shifted back to our side!!! Jon stepped up, as the rest of his teammates held their breath. Good shot to the right, keeper dove the wrong way, and… GOAL!!! 3-2!!!!!!!! MISN wins on penalties!!!

What a game!

Jon’s cool nerves didn’t let his teammates down and provided the winning goal2-2 final score
(5-4 P.S.O.)


Jonny (GOAL)

Güven (GOAL)
AC (saved)
Jon (GOAL)

A very close shave guys, but overall I think we deserved the win. Our opponents fought valiantly and scored on two very good individual efforts. Their equalizer could have shattered our morale, but we held strong and managed to overcome the penalty shootout test. It’s a good omen for us, since whenever there’s a shootout involved during playoffs MISN ends up being the champion! Let’s hope it continues! :)

Next game (SEMI-FINALS) will be Tuesday September 25th at either 8 or 9pm. Our opponents will either be Ukraina or Talafone.

Two more games to the CUP boys… MISN’s CUP!!!!