Goals from Giampaolo Pazzini and Mario Balotelli secured a hard fought 2-0 victory for Milan away against Genoa. The Rossoneri who were reduced to ten men in the second half, were lacklustre and ended up fighting hard to hold onto the victory. Injuries, ill-discipline and a red card marred the victory for Massimiliano Allegri’s team.
The Rossoneri headed into the match with one eye on the trip to Barcelona next week. However they still needed to ensure three points in order to consolidate third position in the league standings. Kevin Constant returned from injury at left back and Allegri also handed a start to M’ Baye Niang. Kevin-Prince Boateng was rested ahead of the Barcelona tie and Mario Balotelli started on the bench. Genoa started former Milan player, Marco Borriello as a lone striker.
The first half of the game was a far cry from the fluent Milan we have seen in 2013. Davide Ballardini’s side did well to stifle Milan who seemed to be devoid of any ideas in the final third of the pitch. However despite struggling to assert themselves on the game, the Rossoneri took the lead in the 22nd minute. A Mattia De Sciglio cross was deflected into the path of Pazzini who rifled a shot into the roof of the net. That was to be Pazzini’s last action in the match as he limped off minutes later to be replaced by Balotelli.
Genoa continued to make life difficult for Milan after conceding and also created a number of threatening chances of their own. Andrea Bertolacci in particular was impressive for the Grifone and proved to be a thorn in Milan’s defence.
Phillipe Mexes was substituted at half time due to injury and the second period mirrored the first, as the Grifone’s physicality unsettled Milan. The Rossoneri midfield trio of Ricardo Montolivo, Mathieu Flamini and Sulley Muntari were never allowed time on the ball or given space to dictate. Once again however Milan added a second goal to the score line against the run of play. A corner found Christian Zapata on the edge of the box who passed it to Balotelli and his shot beat Stephan Frey at his far post. Balotelli who had only returned to training after injury two days earlier had been fairly non-existent up to that point.
The encounter became more difficult for Milan with twenty minutes remaining as Constant was sent off after an altercation with Cesare Bovo. The Grifone pushed hard with a man advantage but were still unable to break down Milan’s defence and Christian Abbiati in goals.
The 2-0 victory for Milan was by no means resounding despite what the comfortable score line suggests. A further three points for the Rossoneri not only secures third spot for another weekend but leaves a gap of only two points to second place Napoli. Milan will head into the second leg tie of the Champions League against Barcelona full of confidence. Their only concern will be whether the injuries sustained by Pazzini and Mexes are serious.