Bogdani 31, Giaccherini 44
Massimo Allegri was left in shock as his Milan superstars were humbled 2-0 at the hands of Serie A new boys Cesena on Saturday. Off the back of a superb opening day result at home to Lecce, plus the arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho, optimism was high for i Rossoneri, but clearly the Coach now has work to do if he wants to find a way to accommodate Ronaldinho, Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato and Robinho in the same team.
This defeat would suggest that just putting all these superstars on the pitch together will not be enough to bring success back for the Diavoli. In fact, it was almost as if last week’s 4-0 opener never happened. The inclusion of Ibrahimovic as the central striker and Robinho’s introduction later on severely disrupted the balance which had worked to such devastating effect last weekend.
Pato was pushed out wide, which reduced his threat on the opposition’s goal. Against Lecce, the Brazilian demonstrated he is capable of being a prolific goalscorer this season but if he is confined to the right flank to accommodate Ibrahimovic, his immense talents may go to waste.
Milan did start brightly, however. After Cesena failed to clear a corner, Ronaldinho controlled first time before attempting a half-volleyed lob that Francesco Antonioli palmed away superbly diving to his left.
The away side’s biggest chance came from an Andrea Pirlo corner, where the unmarked Thiago Silva somehow managed to head over from six yards. Afterwards, however, Milan struggled to find rhythm collectively, summed up when Pato retrieved an over-hit Cesena corner and embarked on a run which came to nothing as teammates struggled to provide an option.
As the first half wore on, Cesena’s Emanuele Giaccherini started to dictate play, putting his side’s opponents under increasing pressure. This led to some rash challenges from Gennaro Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini, the latter perhaps lucky to escape with just a yellow card for a dangerous late tackle on Marco Parolo.
With i Rossoneri dropping deeper, Pirlo became a frustrated figure, and on 31 minutes the hosts deservedly went in front when Luca Ceccarelli’s volleyed cross from the right was met superbly by Erjon Bogdani, who glanced a header into the far corner.
The disjointed visitors then lost their shape as Daniele Bonera and Luca Antonini pushed forward, leaving space behind for Cesena to exploit on the break. It backfired decisively when the hosts broke up another Milan attack and Bogdani sent Giaccherini clear. Despite Thiago Silva’s best efforts, the impressive forward kept his cool to finish low beyond Christian Abbiati.
Milan were more vibrant in the second half and Pato had a goal disallowed for handball but Cesena generally dealt with their opponents’ attacks and substitute Robinho offered little. However, i Rossoneri were given a lifeline with four minutes left when fellow sub Filipo Inzaghi was tugged down in front of goal, but Ibrahimovic summed up his frustrating debut and his team’s woeful display when he smashed his effort against the post.
From hero to zero, Allegri was left with plenty to ponder at the final whistle, while the jubilant hosts toasted a deserved victory and proved they are capable of competing with Serie A’s elite.