Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lazio 1-1 Milan

Lazio drew 1-1 with AC Milan in Rome this morning (Australian Eastern Standard Time) as the Italian Serie A had an ‘English week’ (translation:
midweek matches).

Milan dominated the first half but were unable to score, despite four good chances that fell to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, signed this season from Barcelona for 24 million pounds after just one season with the Catalans.

Ibrahimovic won three Serie A titles with Milan’s city rivals, Inter, of course.

The game in Italy is vastly different to that in England and the ball was mostly on the ground and the pace was not as frenetic as in the English Premier League.

Milan’s Ronaldinho was but a shadow of his former self. The impish smile is still there, but is not as visible as in the past, while the array of tricks, such as back-heels, flicks and audacious passes, don’t always come off now.

Robinho, who left Manchester City after being unable to settle, made an appearance as a late substitute for Milan, for whom Alessandro Nesta was playing his 500th career match.

Clarence Seedorf was in the thick of things for Milan and it was his pass which led to his side’s goal. He has won the European Cup with three different clubs.

The Frenchman and former Arsenal player Mathieu Flamini made a cameo appearance for Milan late in the match.

Australian midfielder Mark Bresciano was on the bench for Lazio, but did not see action.

Ibrahimovic’s first chance came in the 7th minute when he was presented with a one-on-one with the Lazio goalkeeper, but Uruguayan custodian Fernando Muslera was up to the task and foiled the captain of Sweden and Sweden’s sportsman of the year.

In the 12th minute, Ibrahimovic spurned another chance by heading wide.

In the 18th minute, he tried to outfox a defender on the left by imitating Ronaldo’s step-over routine, after the second attempt, managed to get in a low cross-cum-shot which was blocked by Muslera. The ball rebounded to a defender, who conceded a corner.

A new type of foul came in the 26th minute and resulted in Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso being booked. He pulled down Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, who had sprinted past him, by grabbing him by the hair.

Lazio’s first real chance came in the 27th minute when a Hernandes free-kick was turned wide for a corner by Milan keeper Christian Abbiati.

A minute later came another miss by Ibrahimovic, who headed Kevin-Prince Boateng’s right-wing cross harmlessly over the bar.

Lazio’s Brazilian, Hernandes, who was active down both flanks, was unlucky to shoot wide in the 31st minute when sent through by Cristian Brocci.

In the 34th minute, Abbiati came to Milan’s rescue by saving from Lazio captain Staefano Mauri after Ronaldinho made a hash of controlling Andrea Pirlo’s pass and lost possession in midfield to Giuseppe Biava.

Milan came back strongly in the closing minutes, with Seedorf shooting just wide following a corner, and then Ronaldinho getting a touch to a Seedorf corner and setting up Nesta, who could only lob over the bar.

Two minutes before the interval, Ronaldinho threaded a pass through to Seedorf on the left, but he chose to centre the ball when a shot was the more sensible option.

Lazio looked much more threatening in the opening stages of the second half and, on the hour, Hernanes fluffed a chance by placing his shot straight at Abbiati.

Milan took the lead in the 66th minute. Seedorf played a perfectly-timed pass through the middle for Ibrahimovic, who beat the oncoming goalkeeper to the ball just outside the box. The Milan striker kept going with the ball and, with Muslera on the ground and out of the action, Ibrahimovic stroked the ball into an empty net despite last-ditch tackles from Biava and Andre Dias.

It was his first Serie A goal since joining from Barcelona and followed his two goals in the European Champions league for Milan recently.

Lazio were level 9 minutes from the end through a beautifully constructed and perfectly executed goal. Hernanes made ground down the left and clipped a sharp low ball towards the penalty spot, where Sergio Floccari, despite being tightly marked, smashed the ball home with the outside of his right foot.

Floccari spent last season on loan with Genoa, for whom he netted 8 goals. He is now permanently with Lazio.

In the 84th minute, Floccari sent over an inviting cross from the left that had goal written all over it, but incredibly, Tommaso Rocchi completely mis-kicked the ball and the chance went begging.

Robinho came on for Seedorf with three minutes remaining but saw little action, even in the 5 minutes of stoppage time.

Milan almost grabbed a winner in the 88th minute from the most unlikely of sources when fullback Gianluca Zambrotta almost toppled the goal with a fierce strike that came back off the right-hand post and left Muslera a mere bemused spectator.

Lazio had the final chance, from who else but Hernanes, but Abbiati got down to turn the shot wide for a fruitless corner.

Lazio moved up to fifth on the ladder while Milan dropped to eighth.

This was the 150th meeting between the sides. Lazio have won 29 and Milan 66.

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