There was so much tension in this game you could cut it with a knife. Milan had the opportunity to make it so that there was only one point separating them from league leaders Inter after they suffered a humiliating 3-1 loss to Catania. There was a lot riding on this game, Milan had the chance to blow the title race wide open, and they did just that, but did so in an undeserved fashion. Milan may have won but The Flying Donkeys played the better football.
The game started with Chievo attacking and trapping Milan in their own half for a good portion of the game. It had taken the Rossoneri 15 minutes to wake up as it seemed as though someone had just woken them up during nap time. Ronaldinho had clearly learnt something from the humiliating 4-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League and was working harder and actually moving more for the ball and not expecting it to fall perfectly at his feet. But also Chievo had obviously come to realise that Ronnie was where most of Milan’s creative spark was going to some from so each time he had the ball there were at least two yellow and blue shirts surrounding him – at one point there were three. This had been one of Milan’s weaknesses – if you decide to build your team around one player, you start to become increasingly predictable.
Chievo had their best chance after 41 minutes when the ball pounded the crossbar but more was still to come when at the stroke of half time Giampiro Pinzi struck the ball at Christian Abbiati, which he then parried away but only as far as Mario Yepes who had the simple task of tapping it in. To Abbiati’s relief the goal was chalked of for offside. The second half started much the same as the first, with Chievo attacking and this time more insistently as they felt aggrieved that their best chance before half-time had been disallowed.
The Rossoneri seemed to lack any kind of inventiveness and seemed to struggle when it came to keeping the ball, especially in midfield. One could argue that Milan were not playing well because of all the injuries. Alexandre Pato, Alessandro Nesta, Luca Antonini, Daniele Bonera and Oguchi Onyewu are all out injured and now they have to deal with Ignazia Abate and David Beckham having to hobble off the pitch during this game, while the latter is now out for the rest of the season having ruptured his Achilles tendon. So Milan won this game but at what price?
Leonardo had decided enough is enough and brought on Flippo Inzaghi, and Clarence Seedorf. Both players may be the wrong side of 30 but none-the-less have the desire and will to win. With the introduction of these players also came a flurry of late chances, the first from Pippo at 72 minutes, followed by Ronnie who had a great opportunity to snatch a win at 80 minutes but it just went wide. Lastly Beckham had the best chance but just scuffed it at the last minute, and not long after that the former England captain had to hobble off injured and Milan were down to 10 men. This was soon followed by a goal, not by Chievo as some people may suspect but by Seedorf of Milan – and what a screamer on the 91st minute. So there you have it, an uninspiring Milan left the game with the most important three points in their careers.