Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s wonder strike for Milan was enough to see of a resilient Fiorentina side 1-0 at the rainy San Siro on Saturday evening. The Barcelona loanee pounced on the stroke of half time to leave La Viola jammed in mid-table.
The Rossoneri have now picked up four straight league victories and are perched just as many points clear of their nearest rivals Lazio.
Daniel Bonera came close to opening the scoring inside the first minute as his stinging drive tested the finger tips of Polish international Artur Boruc. Christian Abbiati was in equally as fine form when he produced an outrageous save to deny Gaetano D’Agostino’s curling effort. The fast tempo of the game was certainly influenced by the rain and Milan’s number one was again at his best to deny Per Kroldrup’s header.
The game became more placid soon after as both teams opted for an intrusive approach instead of going gung-ho. However, the ageing Clarence Seedorf revitalized the finger tips of Boruc with a thunderous attempt with 28 minutes on the clock.
The Dutchman provided the catalyst for Robinho soon after with a delightful through ball to the Manchester City loanee only to see his finish correctly ruled out for offside.
Sinisa Mihajlovic looked resolute with his side’s efforts but all their hard work turned into anguish as Ibrahimovic neatly controlled the ball on his chest and swiveled to thunder home a volley that bounced in off the ground. Boruc was unable to deny the big Swede and Mihajlovic was left with the task of reigniting his players at the interval.
La Viola’s frustrations became clearer into the second half as Milan began to demonstrate why they are top of the league. Warhorse Alessandro Nesta had a golden opportunity to double the lead but his header sailed wide of the mark. Former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini saw a penalty claim waved away when it looked as if Marco Donadel handled the Frenchman’s cross.
Kevin Prince Boateng was the next to test the former Celtic man in the Fiorentina goal. The Ghanaian’s effort produced another quality save from Boruc as he kept Viola in the match. Former Milan striker Alberto Gilardino played in Adem Ljajic who saw his effort brilliantly saved by Abbiati.
The visitors’ frustrations were summed up in the closing stages when Kroldrup saw red to mark a miserable result in a drizzly affair. Mihajlovic bemoaned his sides luck as he felt on another day La Viola would have taken something from the game; “Although we are returning home with little, the boys must build on this encounter and remember the manner in which they fought to the end. Such a mentality will set us in good stead going forward. With a little more luck in front of goal today we could have taken something. Unfortunately, this is football and if you don’t score you get little.”
In what has often been the case for Fiorentina this season the problem seems to be finding the back of the net. Only thirteen goals scored and no victory away from home must be of some concern to La Viola faithful.
Milan’s coach Massimiliano Allegri however was in awe of his sides togetherness; “This victory is an important sign of the unity within the side. We have reached a mental balance that is also evident in training during the week.” Something Mihajlovic wishes he could say about his current crop.
So now it is a case of regrouping and preparing for the overwhelming task of the trip to Turin next Saturday night. Fiorentina travel to an impressive looking Juvuntus outfit hoping to go one better than they did against Milan.
For former Yugoslav international Mihajlovic it looks as though he is presented with the unprecedented task of reforming his troops once again. The players showed guile and craftsmanship against Milan but too many intrusions of concentration cost them dear.
Juan Manual Vargas will be pushing hard for a recall to the starting lineup and the Peruvian’s pace and power will surely be a welcome return.
Therefore Mihajlovic must keep ushering himself away from the trap door and gain that all important first away win, starting in Turin.