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Qasa Alom On September - 11 - 2010

Match Report: Cesena 2 - 0 Milan.

This was the Rossoneri’s first game since Berlusconi opened the chequebook for Ibrahimovic and Robinho. Expectation from fans and the players was high as Milan looked to build on their impressive 4-0 destruction of Lecce. There was no room for Robinho in the starting line-up but Ibrahimovic made his debut in the place of Borriello.

Cesena were looking to build upon their impressive 0-0 draw against Roma and fielded the same side.

An open affair started with Milan dominating early possession. Pato’s run down the right hand side in the eleventh minute earned the  Rossoneri a corner and Pirlo’s resultant ball in almost lead to Thiago scoring his second goal in as many games, however though he leaped the highest, he couldn’t keep his free header down.

Only a minute later, Cesena almost broke the deadlock themselves as Bogdani darted to the near post and flicked the ball over.

Both teams were opting to throw men forward. Ibrahimovic had his first chance to show Milan fans his worth, as he cut in from the right hand touchline behind the defense, but could only win another corner.

The positioning of Milan’s front three was causing much confusion for Cesena early on, as Ibrahimovic often popped up on the right flank and Ronaldinho in the central berth. There was a first glimpse of the trio at work in the 20th minute when neat link up between Ronaldinho and Pato on the left hand side released Ibrahimovic into the box bit former Milan Keeper Antonioli smothered up the loose ball.

Cesena weren’t letting the Milanese giants have it all their own way though, and were repeatedly getting joy down the right flank, which was often exposed due to a lack of tracking back from Ronaldinho.

Milan started to turn the screw. In the 24th minute a well worked move between Pato and Ibrahimovic came back to Thiago Silva. The Brazilian defender clipped the ball diagonally over the defense back to Pato who took a touch before drilling the ball across goal into the corner only to have the linesman spoil the celebrations.. The move was similar to Pato’s first goal versus Lecce in the first match day.

Then, Ambrosini gathered up the ball in the centre circle and fed Zlatan. The Swedish striker ran at the defense before slipping the ball out wide to Pato. The Brazilian striker’s shot curved away from goal.

Milan came closest to scoring a minute later when Antonini whipped in a ball across the face of goal that left Antonioli flapping. With the goal gaping neither Ronaldinho nor Zlatan could get a touch as the ball went out for another corner.

However against the run of play Cesena took the lead in the 30th minute! Giacharinni brought the ball in towards the Milan box from the left hand touchline and moved the ball infront of the Milan defense to Ceccarelli on the right hand side. The full back was in acres of space, controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed it into the box for Bogdani, who rose highest to head in from 6 yards out. It was the strikers first goal in 21 games.

Cesena took confidence from the goal, and started to press heavier onto Milan.

Ronaldinho salvaged a ball that was going out, and turned it back into the 6 yard box towards Pato. The striker who has grown 9 cm over the summer, rose highest at the back post, but couldn’t nod the ball down and on target.

Another Milan corner was almost forced through by Gattuso as Cesena’s defense held firm.. The newly promoted team were happy to play off the counter attack particularly with Ronaldinho and Ibrahimovic often slowing the game down to a standstill

A last ditch tackle from Bonera stopped Giacharrini being one on one with Abbiati after he skipped past an exposed Papastopoulos.

As the half time whistle approached Cesena looked comfortable at containing Milan’s new look front three, and were even looking the more likely to score off the counter, easily bypassing the veteran midfield trio down the flanks.

They did double the lead just before halftime as well as Bogdani slid the ball through a huddle of Milan players for Giacherrini to come onto the ball and drill past Abbiati from outside the box with his left foot that left Milan going into HT break 2-0 down!

In the second half Abate replaces Thiago Silva Milan and Milan were as expected keen to get on the front foot, wheras Cesena looked happy to just sit back in their own half and work off the counter.

A searching ball from the left into the box was nodded down by Ibra to Gattuso, but the midfield terrier slipped as he connected with the ball and blazed wide. Cecharelli flashed a shot wide from a rare Cesena attack down the right hand channel.

Ronaldinho, largely invisible in the first half, was looking to get more into his game, and his chipped pass over to Pato who then scored again was judged to be handled, so Milan had another goal ruled out.

The former World player of the year was becoming visibly riled and was taken off after a couple of off – the – ball incidents. Robinho was keen to make a good impression straight away and traded flicks and tricks with Zlatan, but again Cesena’s defense still stood strong.

Milan looked like a side with no ideas or structure, perfectly exemplified by Zlatan in the 64th minute who resorted to a speculative shot that sailed high over from 35 yards.

Allegri’s last throw of the dice was to replace Gattuso with Inzaghi. The veteran striker has scored in 15 of the last 16 seasons.

Coming into the last twenty minutes, the fairly anonymous Robinho rode two challenges and threaded Inzaghi through for a typical Super Pippo one on one move that ended with the Offside flag going up.

Ibrahimovic dropped deep and fed Inzaghi, who rolled the Cesena defender and then shifted the ball onto his right to make room, however could only win a corner.

In the 83rd minute, Milan just about kept the score at 2-0 as the ball broke for a Colluci hit that Abbiati tipped around the post. Then the subsequent corner forced Abbiati to clear the ball off the line with his feet.

With the clock ticking down Milan worked the ball well on the counter with Pato Robinho and Inzaghi combining to tee up Ibrahimovic who tried to curl it around into the corner before being tipped wide.

There was drama with a final minutes as Nagamoto pulled Inzaghi down in the six yard box to earn a penalty, however Zlatan’s nonchalant side-foot kissed the outside of the post to his disbelief!

Cesena comfortably saw out the last few minutes of stoppage time to cheers, whilst Milan were flat and short of confidence. Allegri has a lot of work to do before the midweek Champions league tie against Auxerre.

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