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Qasa Alom On September - 18 - 2010

Match Report: Milan 1 - 1 Catania.

Milan’s fans have certainly been on a rollercoaster ride this last week. A sense of enthusiasm and anticipation thoroughly quashed by a shock defeat to Serie A new boys Cesena last Saturday. Then two second half goals from Ibrahimovic and a dynamic midfield performance from other new signing Kevin Prince Boateng to buoy morale and bring the tifosi full circle ahead of the match versus Catania tonight.

Three changes for the Milan team, with Thiago Silva returning to the starting line-up, Boateng replacing Gattuso and Inzaghi coming in for the injured Pato. Catania face an uphill challenge, they’ve never beaten Milan at the San Siro in 13 Serie A games with 9 defeats and four draws. They’ve also failed to score in seven of these games. Catania will look to ex Barcelona man Maxi Lopez and Mascara to change this stat in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Ibrahimovic was moved out to the right of the front three in Pato’s absence and after great combination play with the effervescent Boateng, he rolled the ball into the six yard box for Pippo to slip between two strikers. With only the keeper though, the veteran stabbed his shot wide of the near post in the 14th minute.

Unlike last week, Milan were being allowed plenty of time on the ball, which suited the likes of Seedorf Ibrahimovic and Ronaldinho, casually indulging in flicks and clever triangles without really penetrating the Catania defense

Yet just like last week, it was the supposed “minnows” that looked the more likely to score. Milan’s soft underbelly was again on display as Potenza managed to wriggle his way through behind Antonini and shot fiercely at the near post leading Abbiati to make a smart save.

The danger wasn’t totally cleared though and Milan were left to rue Inzaghi’s early miss. Capuano unleashed a 25 yard blockbuster volley past Abbiati and silenced the crowds. The home team were in complete shock and almost conceded again a minute later as Catania raced forward off the counter attack, but failed to capitalize on a three on one situation and dragged the shot from the right hand side wide.

It was a similar sort of counter-attacking move that Giacherrini scored Cesena’s second goal from last week, showing that this is an area of concern for Milan and Massimiliano Allegri.

Catania were growing in confidence now, snapping into tackles and running at the Milanese defense. Maxi Lopez almost caught Abbiati off guard after dribbling past 3 defenders but his audacious chip sailed over. Waves of Catania attacks were leaving Milan flat footed and Mascara should have doubled the lead in the 35th minute ghosting in at the back post but failed to keep his free header on target.

As the half started to close, Allegri would have been grateful that the relentless pressure abated. Catania sat back again to defend deep and narrow and consequentially Milan started to tiptoe forward again patiently. Side to side with an odd hopeful pass lofted in from Pirlo, being knocked down by Ibrahimovic and slashed wildly over by Seedorf.

The polite probing continued, a one two here, right to left, back, left to right; nothing was getting inside the box though as Catania concentrated and defended like men besieged. Yet games are turned by mistakes and Milan ruthlessly profited from a slip by Mascara that allowed Bonera inside the danger zone to fire across the goal towards the attacking trident. Ronaldinho hung back and used his great vision to slip Inzaghi in for the equalising goal, just before half time.

At Half time the Curva Sud chanted loud to energize their players, and it seemed to have an effect as Ibrahimovic teed up Seedorf for another shot early on, only for the keeper Andujar to stop the midfielder putting the home side ahead.

Then the probing and gentle caresses started again, this was looking like the Milan in the second half versus Auxerre, skilful and flashy on the ball, but lacking leadership and direction.

On 65 minutes Thiago let fly from outside the box for the keeper to parry, a rare shot in a game that was otherwise being characterized by midfield keep ball. Inzaghi, bizarrely on the right of the front three, almost gave Milan the advantage in the 68th minute but Andujar was quick off his lines to stop the veteran striker from sniffing around too much.

Catania made two substitutes to try and change the pattern, Ledesma and Delvecchio but the pattern of play continued: Catania, ran around chasing the ball, Milan weren’t quite sure what they wanted to do with it and Allegri wasn’t quite sure how to change it.

In the 86th minute Oduamadi came on for Inzaghi to give Milan some pace down the right handside and Seedorfs dinked ball was laid off by Ibra into Ronaldinho’s path, but the Brazilian couldn’t get enough power on it to steer it past the keeper.

The game drifted into stoppage time and Rino Gattuso came on for Seedorf leaving the crowd bewildered. With a minute left, Boateng was tackled late, but Ibrahimovic couldn’t head the resultant Pirlo freekick in and the game finished 1 – 1 to whistles.

Qasa Alom

Broadcast Journalist. Writer for Serieaweekly, subtitled online or anyone else daft enough to want me. These are my thoughts (even the clever ones)

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