Milan and Cagliari both looked to continue their impressive form after the international hiatus when they met at the San Siro on Sunday.
After the early exchanges it was the Milan outfit that put the first meaningful attack together as Clarence Seedorf and Marco Borriello linked up with the Dutchman coolly slotting home in the fifth minute. But Leonardo’s men switched off and allowed the Sardinians back into the game just a few minutes later. Andrea Lazzari, playing as a trequartista provided a sublime cross from which ex milanista Alessandro Matri placed past Dida.
The following twenty minutes saw Massimiliano Allegri’s men dominate the game as Lazzari began to orchestrate things. This dominance paid off when Jeda sent a lofty ball into the area which Lazzari calmly slotted home on the half hour mark to give Cagliari the lead. The pendulum swayed once again as Milan got back into it following a corner from Andrea Pirlo. Alexandro Pato headed the initial cross goal-ward, which Federico Marchetti parried, but his clearance was not good enough and Borriello was there to put the ball away. One minute later Pato put Leonardo’s men into the lead with a classy finish that rocketed into the top left hand corner. The interval came and everyone was given a well deserved rest after a frantic 45 minutes.
Ronaldinho started the second half well as he slowly got himself into the game with some mazy runs and neat flicks. Just on the hour, Milan further extended their lead via a penalty after Borriello was fouled by Davide Astori. The enigmatic Ronnie blasted the ball home in emphatic style. Allegri threw caution to the wind and sent on another striker in Nene. This move paid off as he was to score after just five minutes of coming on after an assist from Jeda in the 69th minute. Milan went defensive for the remaining 20 minutes but held on to gain a valuable three points.
Leonardo: “ We have difficulty defending but it’s something we already know. This is a team that has learnt to recover quickly from adversity”.
Massimiliano Allegri: “ It was an enjoyable game…unfortunately we had a crazy five minutes for Milan’s second and third goals when we were not concentrating. We thought we had the game in our hands… we played the game the way we had to but there is regret that we did not bring a positive result home that we clearly deserved”.
Leonardo will be happy with the result as they keep the pressure up on Juventus but his worry will be the three goals they conceded at home. Alessandro Nesta’s absence was felt in the Milan backline as Kakha Kaladze came in as cover to partner Thiago Silva. The Rossoneri defence attempted to use the offside trap to quell the potent Sardinian counterattack but it was ineffective as Lazzari exploited their defensive fragilities with some classy through balls to the two front men of Jeda and Matri. Lazzari was a threat throughout the game and was Cagliari’s best player, as all that was good with their play went via him. Allegri will be slightly less concerned with his defence as his side were a well organised defensive unit throughout the game with two banks of four usually shielding Marchetti’s goal to good effect. It wasn’t until the closing stages of the first half that Cagliari were undone by the attacking prowess of Milan’s frontline which boasts one of the most lethal combinations of attacking players on the Old Continent.
Il Diavolo lined up with the envious trident of Pato, Borriello and Ronaldinho. Marco donned his customary mouth guard which reflected his bullish like play as he held the ball up well, acting as the focal point of the attack. Dinho was rather quiet in the first half but his only meaningful involvement of the half saw him provide the killer pass that Pato nonchalantly rifled into the net to give Milan the lead going into the break. His unquestionable class shone through in the second half as he slowly got into the game and went on some mazy runs, beating two or three players with ease before supplying some inviting balls into the box as well as some neat flicks and back heels that added the ever welcomed samba flavour to the game as both teams went for the jugular.
The Sardinians should make the long journey home with their heads held high as not many teams will go to the Giuseppe Meazza and give Milan such a scare, but that means little to Allegri after such an impressive display in which at one stage it seemed like he would be taking all three points back home. However, in the end he was left undeservedly empty handed. For all the neutrals, the two teams were a joy to watch as they both played some scintillating football while the defensive mishaps simply added to the drama. Rejoice all you purists of the game.
Milan 4-3 Cagliari – Seedorf 6, Borriello 38, Pato 40, Ronaldinho pen 62 – Matri 9, Lazzari 30, Nene’ 68
Milan (4-2-3-1): Dida – Oddo, Thiago Silva, Kaladze, Zambrotta – Pirlo, Ambrosini – Pato (Strasser 84), Seedorf (Abete 70), Ronaldinho – Borriello (Inzaghi 75)
Cagliari (4-3-1-2): Marchetti – Canini (Pisano 69), Lopez, Astori, Agostini – Dessena, Conti, Biondini (Nene’ 64) – Lazzari – Jeda, Matri (Larrivey 81)
Milan – Cagliari
1 – Corners – 3
10 (5) – Shots (on target) – 16 (10)
17 – Fouls conceded – 23
4 (0) – Yellow cards (Red) – 3 (0)
3 – Offside – 2