Andrea Pirlo scored a wonder goal to give Milan a hard-fought away victory, their first since April, at Parma on Saturday night. Despite dominating the first half, Milan were sloppy with their opportunities and never quite finished off a spirited Parma side that, despite a lack of ideas, rallied late on.
Milan lined up with the experienced midfield trio of Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso, who were able to control the opening exchanges with long spells of possession that caused the home fans to become frustrated.
Gattuso was starting to break up play frequently and found Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who blazed wide as Parma struggled to cope with the high intensity of Milan’s play.
Parma’s play was dictated by the ever-willing Antonio Candreva. The Italian was heavily pressured in a packed midfield and looked for the natural width Parma possess in Fernando Marqués and Ángelo. The latter found himself in behind Milan’s defence and the Brazilian slid a tantalising cross between the goalkeeper and defence that Hernan Crespo could only scuff into arms of Christian Abbiati.
Ibrahimovic then started to have more influence on Milan’s attack, beginning with a long range shot that stung the fingertips of Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante. Once more the Swedish International fired a shot from range after neat work with Clarence Seedorf, but again it was too central to trouble Mirante.
However the goal arrived shortly after, with heaps of possession mounting up. Ronaldinho’s vision found Ibrahimovic in behind but his cross-shot was intercepted by Alessandro Lucarelli before Robinho could pounce. Pirlo then picked up the loose ball after Parma cleared their lines and, with the Parma defence backing off, the newly appointed Italy captain unleashed an unstoppable screamer into the top right corner from 25 metres out giving Milan a fully deserved lead.
Milan were buoyed by the opener and went in search of a second with Ibrahimovic’s pace too much for the Parma defence. Ronaldinho sent the Swede through on goal, outmuscling Massimo Paci before being denied four times in succession by the highly impressive Mirante, much to the amazement of Milan’s No 11.
It was one-way traffic by the Rossoneri who were inspired by Ronaldinho’s vision again, as he found Luca Antonini rampaging down the left wing before beating Christian Zaccardo to flick across goal only for, yet another, last ditch clearance.
Parma entered the break catching their breath and somehow still in sight of the Diavoli. The Lombardy club appeared to start the second half in a similar vein as Gattuso found Ronaldinho centrally 30 metres out. The Brazilian jinked past one, outmuscled another, and then smashed a shot straight at Mirante.
But Parma, roared on by the boisterous Gialloblu support, began to get a foothold in the match. Brazilian Ángelo sped down the right wing breezing past Gianluca Zambrotta and delivering a fierce cross that eluded Hernan Crespo and the onrushing Marqués.
Parma came back again as the game wound down with the lively Spaniard Marqués at the heart of everything. The home side, however, could only muster half and Milan held on for the three points which, combined with the lively return of Alexandre Pato, will encourage boss Massamiliano Allegri. Counterpart Pasquale Marino, on the other hand, will be concerned as his side lumber at the bottom of Serie A.
71’ 20 Abate on for 77 Antonini
72’ 7 Pato on for 70 Robinho
77’ 27 Boateng on for 8 Gattuso