A good week-end for the Rossoneri. All the while Fiorentina lost vs. Roma, Ancelotti’s boys managed to pull a last-minute victory goal against Palermo, thus reaching La Viola at 4th spot in the Serie A standings. Providing the 3 points for AC Milan today, none other than Mr. Inzaghi: when goalpoaching is the subject at hand, SuperPippo has always got something to say.
With Ronaldo out of the picture for a loooong time, the over-hyped (by virtually the entire Italian press) Ka-Pa-Ro formula (aka Kaká-Pato-Ronaldo trio) has sort of disappeared from the radar. Today, Ancelotti fielded the modified Ka-Pa-Gi, with Alberto Gilardino replacing the previously-bald-but-now-not-so-bald Brazilian. However, almost as if trying to compensate for the absence of Auriverde presence on the field, the Milan coach decided to give extensive offensive liberties to Massimo Ambrosini, with surprisingly very positive results. Indeed on the left wing, the contribution of Milan’s de-facto captain today (in the absence of Paolo Maldini) was a lot more devastating than the “official” left winger of the occasion, Marek Jankulovski (the Czech international sure ran a lot, but was also guilty of a lot of missed passes and lost balls).
On the other end, Francesco Guidolin fielded a thick Palermo midfield with Guana-Migliaccio-Bresciano (who will soon be forming a bald men’s club in Sicily), supported by Cassani-Balzaretti on the wings. Up front, Edison Cavani was coupled with the ever-dangerous Amauri Carvalho de Oliveira, the striker which would so-perfectly fill the role of Luca Toni substitute in the Azzurri squad (come on Donadoni… time to get on your knees and beg).
The match at the San Siro tonight can be essentially characterized by two things: Milan’s vivacity with one-touch passing & ball possession, coupled with some enormous defensive brain-freezes which, had it not been for Palermo’s poor finishing qualities, could have resulted in yet another defeat on home soil. Up front, the technical quality of Pato and Kaká is not up for debate, but today the Brazilian duo left a little to be desired, especially the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner. In his defense, Kaká was struggling with a knock on his left knee, which also probably forced his premature substitution at the end of the first half. His substitute Yoann Gourcuff did little to stand above his teammate, save for the assist for Inzaghi’s winning goal in the 91st. But let’s proceed in order.
Early in the match, the Rosanero grabbed the lead with virtually the first scoring chance of the game: from a long ball forward by Migliaccio, Amauri missed the interception, prompting the insertion of Mark Bresciano right behind him. The Australian midfielder lost little time, and executed an instantaneous half-volley with his instep: it lacked power but not precision, rooting his Aussie buddy Zeljko Kalac (still favored over injured Nelson Dida) to the spot. 1-0 Palermo in minute 9.
The goal was a big sting to Milan’s morale, who immediately began upping the tempo forward, highlighting the clear differential in technique between the two teams. After a long bit of superior ball possession, the Rossoneri re-established the tie in minute 24: a perfect Massimo Oddo delivery inside the box (the Azzurri right-back has been in excellent form lately) found the foot of another Massimo, Ambrosini: a tackling effort close to the left post on which Alberto Fontana was left helpless. 1-1.
For the remaining half of the first period, ensued a veritable Milan siege. The Rossoneri wing-backs Oddo and Jankulovski were really pushing forward, supporting their team’s offensive maneuvers and forcing the Palermo wings to drop to defend. This resulted in very little playable balls for Amauri and Cavani, whose timid attempts at creating some danger were deftly neutralized by the Milan defense. However, the Rosanero backline was doing a fair job of its own, preventing Kaká & friends from getting any real shot on target.
At the break, Kaká left his place to Gourcouff, but the course of play changed very little. The only highlights worth the mention were an Alexandre Pato long-range effort in minute 62 (deflected by a Palermo player, it forced Fontana to a very good save into corner-kick), a good Kalac anticipation on Cristian Zaccardo (ready to apply the finish on a Fabio Simplicio free-kick, in minute 66), and an Edison Cavani cannonball in minute 69 (after a sleepy Milan defense had allowed the Uruguyan striker acres to arm his shot). In other words, a poor display for a team who is desperately hunting that 4th Champions League qualifying spot.
So, like many times before, the task of solution provider was left to the incumbent Inzaghi: minute 91, Gourcuff on the left wing, switching the ball to his right foot and providing a perfect cross for Super Pippo inside the Palermo box. Missing the offside trap, the entire Rosanero defense allowed the 2006 World Cup champion to comfortably apply a diving header finish, for AC Milan’s 2-1 final scoreline. The Rossoneri’s Champions’ League spot is one step closer.
|GOALSCORERS: 9′ Bresciano (P), 24′ Ambrosini (M), 91’ Inzaghi (M).|
|MILAN (4-3-1-2): Kalac – Oddo, Bonera, Kaladze, Jankulovski (84’ Favalli) – Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Kakà (46’ Gourcuff) – Pato, Gilardino (72’ Inzaghi). (bench: Fiori, Simic, Emerson, Brocchi). Coach: Ancelotti|
|PALERMO (3-5-2): Fontana – Zaccardo, Barzagli, Biava – Cassani, Guana, Migliaccio, Bresciano (55’ Simplicio), Balzaretti – Cavani (88’ Gio.Tedesco), Amauri. (bench: Agliardi, Rinaudo, Caserta, Jankovic, Miccoli). Coach: Guidolin.|