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Milan recorded their first win in the Champions League this season after they defeated Czech side Viktoria Plzen 2-0 at the San Siro on Wednesday night. It was not a vintage display by any stretch from the seven time European champions but it was enough to gain all three points and keep pace with Barcelona in Group H.

In the post-match press conference Plzen coach Pavel Vrba said, “Ibrahimovic was the best player on the pitch.” He was right.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the standout performer on the night. In a team that is often criticised for lacking imagination in the final third, the presence of the big Swede often solves this problem and it did so again.

Zlatan was at the centre of every attacking move for Milan. He dropped deep on numerous occasions to initiate play while he popped up in positions to score for himself too. He was rampant throughout and it came as no surprise that he created the two chances that led to the two goals that ensured victory for the Italians.

First it was his audacious attempted flick past a Plzen defender in the box that led to the awarding of the penalty from which Ibra himself stepped up to take and successfully convert.

Then ten minutes later the Swede turned provider. After expertly bringing down a long ball pass, he played a defence splitting ball for Cassano who took it in his stride before neatly chipping the ball past the oncoming Marek Cech in goal for the visitors.

In the same press conference, Vrba continued, saying, “It was lucky for Milan that he had recovered in time as he decided the game.”

Again, the Czech boss was spot on.

Milan were indeed very lucky to have Ibrahimovic back in time for the contest. Only on Monday had he returned to injury after a two week lay-off.

Had he not recovered in time, Allegri would have been left with but one recognised first team striker available; Antonio Cassano. Such a circumstance brought about by a mixture of bad luck and questionable decision making on Allegri’s behalf.

While Brazilian strike duo Robinho and Alexandre Pato were unavailable due to injury the recently acquired Stephen El Shaarawy was left out of the European squad altogether along with, incredibly, Pippo Inzaghi.

In the end, however, Allegri has Ibra’s late return and match winning display to thank for saving his blushes.

It may have been a very different affair had Ibra not played. With only Cassano playing ahead of a midfield that relies on the 35-year-old Seedorf to provide the creativity, Milan would have lacked ideas just like they did over the weekend when they narrowly defeated Cesena by a goal to nil.

After a shaky start to the season, Milan will be boosted by their second win in as many matches and their second consecutive clean sheet. With more players expected to return from injury in the coming weeks, it seems things can only get better for Italian champions who are now on course to qualify for the knockout stages.

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