Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Qasa Alom On October - 18 - 2011

Italian Serie A Match Review: AC Milan 3-0 Palermo

Champions AC Milan are back to their brilliant best after an utterly dominant 3-0 victory against Palermo.

Massimiliano Allegri stated prior to the match that Milan had to “get three points” above all else, but what he got was far more important. Accomplished performances from the midfield new boys Nocerino and Alberto Aquilani, a stunning comeback from Brazilian Robinho, doubts over Antonio Cassano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s commitments to the long term future thoroughly dispelled and above all else a champions display to fire a warning to the pretenders to the throne made for quite a productive Saturday night. As for Palermo, after a bright start to the season which saw them sitting in fourth place, the sheer apathy of the performance will be a huge concern.

AC Milan, arguably fielded their strongest eleven, Ignazio Abate returned to the starting line-up and after a confident display midweek, Alberto Aquilani and Italian international team-mate Nocerino flanked Mark Van Bommel in a much more mobile and dynamic looking midfield, with Robinho enjoying the keys to the team, just behind Ibrahimovic and a red-hot Cassano. Palermo persisted with their 4-4-2 formation, with Ilicic floating in from the left and Fabrizio Miccoli passed a late fitness test to partner Abel Hernandez in attack.

Ac Milan started brightly with the heavily missed Robinho involved from the starting whistle. The Brazilian gave the side genuine pace and endeavour with his every touch in the first few minutes enchanting the crowd into expecting something to happen. A quick jinx and side step bought him some room to release Abate down the right touchline for the first real chance but the drilled ball into the box was cleared. At the other end Palermo saw Abbiati off the line and mindful of his howler against Juventus in the last match day, Fabrizzio Micolli took an ambitious shot that went into orbit.

For the majority of the opening exchanges Milan laid siege on Palermo’s box trying to open holes in the defence with intricate –if not laboured- passing moves, Ibrahimovic and Robinho tried to combine and rekindle their expansive partnership from last year particularly down the left, but for all the talent in the front line, it was former Palermo man Nocerino who was proving to be the biggest threat. The 26 year old midfielder drove through the left channel on a number of occasions and played a clever one-two with Robinho before having his shot smothered.

Cassano should have opened the score in the thirteenth minute after a bit of fortune though; Mark van Bommel’s cross from the right touchline took two ricochet’s to leave the ex-Bari man one on one with the goalkeeper, but the angle was very tight and even though his finish slipped under the keeper, the ball slid agonizingly wide of the far post.

The home side were completely in control but yet to find enough time and space for a real clear cut chance in the first twenty minutes, because the away side were very happy to simply soak up pressure and get men behind the ball.

This meant that the forwards found it very difficult to find space and often drifted out wide, but Alberto Aquilani was beginning to strut his stuff from deep and slowly assumed control of the midfield. Cassano, had another chance to open the scoring after a slide rule pass by Nocerino left him one on one with the keeper, this time with a tight angle from the other side that the keeper blocked smartly.

Whilst the hustle and bustle of Robinho and Cassano caused Palermo all sorts of problems, Ibrahimovic on the other hand had been the quietest of the front three, but then burst into life and simply got better as the game went on. His first major contribution was to use his spidery feet well in the corner to wriggle free and cross in the box but the keeper punched the ball wide clearly and then a bad pass left Ibrahimovic bearing down on goal but the big Swede’s finish just went inches past the far post!

Palermo looked flat, but a powerful run forward by Pisano, earned them a corner, which gave them a rare chance to get forward but was sadly wasted. Ijicic was very quiet and Palermo in general were a non entity going forward.

It was hands in hearts moment for Robinho when he put in an enthusiastic but reckless challenge with studs showing against Hernandez but got away with only a yellow card. From a Miccoli free kick Mantovani was also very lucky to get away completely free after he was spotted on camera elbowing Abate in the face. Thiago Silva was carrying a knock from earlier on in the game and couldn’t continue after half an hour’s play which was a huge blow for Milan’s back line.

The best chance of the first half came with Milan’s front three combining beautifully. Cassano drove forward and then with the outside of his boot passed to Ibra, who languidly switched the ball to the other side of the box from the right hand side to Robinho, but the former Manchester City man’s volley was parried out by the keeper Tzorvas and then the second shot was destined for the top corner before the Greek number one brilliantly kept it out!

Finally after all the huffing and puffing of the first 40 minutes, Milan finally broke the deadlock and it came from a fitting source. Ibrahimovic floated another ball over from the right hand side to the far edge of the box, this time for Aquilani, who brilliantly headed across the goal to leave Nocerino free to tap into an open net. The two Italian midfielders combined for the goal and assured fans that there is life after Andrea Pirlo.

Aquilani was continuing to pull the strings and growing into the game and he rolled an inviting pass through for Cassano, but the Italian international’s shot curled well high and wide.

Ibrahimovic blasted the ball hard and low after a cushioned touch by Cassano to tee him up, but the defender put his life on the line to stop it getting on target. Milan definitely wanted another goal before the end of the half and had efforts by Aquilani and Cassano also blocked as Palermo survived to go into the break only 1 -0 down.

The only change at half time was Fabrizio Miccoli who was clearly unfit swapped with former Bari man Alvarez. Cassano had a shout for a penalty ignored right near the touchline after he burst free of Della Rocca, but replays showed the referee was completely correct.

Milan were completely in control now and Ibrahimovic in particular switched to showboating mode. Some fantastic short sharp and intricate play around the box left Palermo dumbfounded and then the big Swede charged into the box and deliciously dinked the ball over the top with the outside of his boot but with the goal gaping Cassano couldn’t get his feet around it and the ball went out wide, but from the recovery ball in by Robinho, Ibrahimovic’s spectacular volley went miles wide.

The goal was coming, and in the 56th minute Milan got their just rewards. Ibrahimovic’s ball carved through 5 players for Robinho to run onto and clip around a hesitant Tzorvas to spark some ridiculous dancing celebrations in the middle of the pitch. The goal was reminiscent of the pair’s sterling partnership from early on last season that set the foundations for the Scudetto challenge, and certainly the side were looking more like those champions again, using the whole length and width of the pitch now and going up the gears in easy fashion.

Nocerino picked up the ball on the left and played it to Ibra, who with three men around him flicked the ball through nonchalantly for Cassano much like he did for the second goal but FantAntonio’s swashbuckling run and goal was flagged for offside.

In the next wave of attacks, Ibrahimovic had his chance to get on the scoresheet when Aquilani broke up an attack with great anticipation and Cassano him through on the left, but Ibra’s toe poked prod went high and wide.

The points were finally secure when Milan toyed around with Palermo in the box in a fantastic team-move. The move again started on the right with a ball lofted over to the left for Cassano, who opted to wait, turn back away from goal in the six yard box and rolled the ball across to Robinho on the other side of the box. With the Palermo defenders all over the place, Robinho held off two challenges to feed the onrushing Abate, who burst to the by line and cut the ball back to the penalty spot for Cassano to steer it around everyone and tuck it into the corner.

The last twenty minutes were very routine and Milan were freely pinging the ball around, creating interesting angles and keeping possession. With the points completely secure, Allegri decidd to give some valuable playing time to teenage prodigy Stephen El-Sharaawy, the little Pharoah’s first act was to bring the ball into the box for Aquilani to muscle through and be free in the box, but his placed shot was too straight and the keeper pushed it out.

The game was over but El-Sharaawy woke the crowd up when a raking pass from Aquilani went over the former Genoa man’s shoulder and his first time blast from outside the box forced a cracking save from the keeper.

Even though the team were already mentally back in the dressing room, Ibra was still on a one man crusade to score and had two free kicks parried out by Tzorvas, the first was a 40 yards blast, parried out by keeper and the second was a free-kick from the left side of the box, that went under the wall. The game finished in smiles and laughter for Milan, but frowns and humiliation for Palermo who left in the sad knowledge that they didn’t even have a shot on target in the second half.

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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