Cassano 56(P), Pazzini 92
With its understated beauty and the closeness of the fans to the pitch generating an electric atmosphere, Stadio Luigi Ferraris is a great advert for Italian football. Amidst this inspirational setting, Sampdoria’s incredible home record continues as they slew yet another giant at home, overcoming Milan by two goals to one on Sunday afternoon. For the Rossoneri, this was one defeat too far, Leonardo’s side now definitely out of the title race if they weren’t already before this game kicked-off.
Both teams started the game with their usual formations and players, with Milan adopting a 4-2-3-1 and Samp setting up in its 4-2-2-2 shape. Leonardo deployed Clarence Seedorf in the free attacking role behind target man Marco Borriello, a position the Dutchman recently revealed to by his favourite and indeed, he had a good first half. Seedorf looked impressive whenever the ball was at his feet, posing a threat to the Blucerchiati with his superb vision and range of passing. However, he faded rapidly in the second-half as Sampdoria dominated possession with their one-man advantage following the dismissal of Daniele Bonera.
The opening goal of the game, Borriello’s powerful headed goal from Amantino Mancini’s cross came against the run of the play. Yet, barely minutes later, the Italian striker had created a great chance for Mancini only for the Brazilian to balloon the shot over the bar. Borriello has yet to make an appearance in a major international tournament for the Azzurri and will be hoping that his performances this season have caught Marcello Lippi’s eye. Unfortunately for him, Lippi also has Alberto Gilardino and Giampaolo Pazzini at his disposal for the choice of prima punta and both of them have had impressive seasons as well.
It looked to be plain sailing for Milan, but Daniele Bonera was looking extremely shaky in the center-back position, his sending off in the second-half anything but surprising. With Antonio Cassano through on goal, Bonera produced an unnecessary and extremely clumsy challenge on El Pibe de Bari who leveled the game from the resulting penalty. As a result, Mancini was sacrificed as Leonardo brought on another ageing, unreliable central defender in the form of Massimo Oddo. It was slightly disappointing that the Rossoneri Coach opted against testing the talented 19-year-old defender Michelangelo Albertazzi’s ability in an important game, but Adriano Galliani has announced that Albertazzi will start featuring in the senior squad from next season onwards, thus injecting some much-needed fresh blood in the Milan backline.
Curiously enough, Sampdoria did not appear to be urgently pushing for the winner. This allowed Milan to create a number of chances which, if taken, would surely have sealed the game for the San Siro club. However, Fernando Tissone’s introduction on 79 minutes was to change the game as the Blucerchiati mounted pressure on Dida’s goal in the final minutes. An otherwise decent defensive performance by Oddo was marred in the final minute as Pazzini got ahead of him to produce a towering header to snatch all three points for Sampdoria.