AC MILAN 1
Milan were held at the San Siro by Catania in a frustrating 1-1 draw. In what was unquestionably a much-improved performance after a lacklustre midweek match against Auxerre, I Rossoneri came back from a goal behind but were not able to grab the vital winner.
Milan were without the influential Alexandre Pato, so Filippo Inzaghi came in to the team. The home side assumed control of the game in the early exchanges without creating many clear-cut chances, a weak effort from Inzaghi after 13 minutes was the best Il Diavolo could muster.
The visitors then shocked the home fans into silence on 27 minutes with a wonder strike from Ciro Capuano, who scored with a 30 yard, dipping volley. Despite the wonder striker, Massimiliano Allegri would have been frustrated by the poor defending after Milan had several opportunities to clear the ball, the main culprit being Daniele Bonera.
I Rossoneri raised their level immediately in search of an equaliser. The energetic Kevin-Prince Boateng was breaking up Catania’s attacks before supplying Ronaldinho, who created several openings in behind Catania’s static defence that were quickly cleared.
The equaliser did come on the stroke of half time when Ronaldinho, from the left of the penalty area, slid the ball across the six-yard box, where Inzaghi, ever the poacher, was waiting to stab home, suspiciously flirting with offside.
Milan started the second half brightly and the Sicilians were fortunate to not concede a second as Clarence Seedorf fired in a stinging shot that Mariano Andujar saved smartly.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic found it tough to make an impact in the game as he was tightly marked by Matías Silvestre throughout. This meant that Inzaghi was the only option for Ronaldinho once on the ball, but the prolific striker could not find the extra yard of pace to break free from his markers and every run he made was snuffed out by the compact Catania defence.
Catania were clearly happy to play on the counter with the point, just like last season, being a result they were content with. Occasionally the Elefanti did break free but were reduced to long-range efforts due to the lack of support beyond the men in possession. This was evident when Giuseppe Mascara received the ball 25 yards from goal but was reduced to shooting with no other options further forward, and the effort was dealt with comfortably by Christian Abbiati. A disappointing lack of ambition, given the impressive way in which Catania exchanged passes and turned defence in to attack.
Despite the disappointing result, Milan could not complain as they failed to create enough openings to stretch the Catania defence, due to a lack of movement that would have been provided by the Brazilians Pato and Robinho. When Ronaldinho was in possession the home side rarely had anybody making diagonal runs across Catania’s defence, which played in to the Sicilian’s hands in allowing two banks of four to snuff out each Rossoneri attack. Allegri will be under pressure now to find a way to break down the many spirited defences, which he will enconter and that will surely employ similar tactics to those of Catania.
25 Bonera – 13 Nesta – 33 Thiago Silva – 77 Antonini
27 Boateng – 21 Pirlo – 10 Seedorf
80 Ronaldinho – 9 Inzaghi – 11 Ibrahimovic
85’ 90 Oduamdi on for 9 Inzaghi
90’ 8 Gattuso on for 10 Seedorf