Kutuzov 65, Barreto 90
Ambrosini 5, Flamini, 32, Pato 72
Milan earned an impressive victory at the notoriously tricky Stadio Comunale San Nicola over Bari to gain ground on leaders Lazio. The hosts were resilient throughout and the Rossoneri needed Alexandre Pato’s vital third to fend off a fight back from the Galletti.
Milan caught Bari sleeping in the opening minutes and took an early lead as Massimo Ambrosini leapt high to steer home a Clarence Seedorf corner from close range, as the Bari players pointed fingers as to who was responsible for the poor marking.
The home side gathered themselves gradually and began to probe at Milan’s shaky defence as the centre back pairing of Alessandro Parisi and Andrea Masiello began to look for the short ball to Sergio Almiron who in turn initiated neat passages of play that pinned back the Rossoneri.
Bari began to over commit and Edgar Álvarez in particular was caught out of position as Milan began to exploit his side of the pitch. Bari though were not patient enough and did not address the threat of Milan’s counterattack. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was found with acres of space in front of goal and his delightfully weighted ball to the left was met by the onrushing Mathieu Flamini who dinked the ball over the goalkeeper.
Bari were undeterred and to their credit still pressed forward in search of a way back in to the game with Paolo Barreto, who bamboozled Mario Yepes but shot disappointingly wide.
Milan gifted Bari large amounts of possession at the start of the second half and continued to look menacingly dangerous on the break but it was Bari in fact who used the counter-attack most effectively with less than half an hour remaining as the neat possession was abandoned for a quick direct route on Milan’s goal. Vitali Kutusov carried the ball towards the penalty area and was met with Yepes’ awful attempt of a tackle that made it far too easy for the Belarus international to halve the deficit.
The lacklustre Robinho made way for Pato on the hour mark and the Brazilian instantly made an impact on the game by latching on to stunning cross field pass by Seedorf before turning Marco Rossi inside out and silencing the home crowd with a clinical finish in to the left corner.
The Rossoneri threatened to put the game beyond doubt when Ibrahimovic was sent clear on goal but his poor pass towards the unmarked Pato was intercepted by Jean-Francois Gillet. The let-off signalled a last attempt from Bari to salvage something from the game. Barreto allowed a ball to drop over his shoulder and connected sweetly with a volley that gave Bari hope going in to stoppage time but Milan held firm to put themselves in to second position and within touching distance of leaders Lazio.