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

Ebrahim Sadien On May - 21 - 2013

Champions League Qualification Done The Milan Way

It was meant to be somewhat of an easy task for Milan. Siena had reassured Fiorentina in the lead up to the game that they would not give up without a fight despite already being relegated. However with so much to play for and with the huge gulf in talent between the two squads Milan were expected to win comfortably. True to form, Milan came out firing and created a number of early scoring opportunities. Gianluca Pegolo did well to save efforts from Robinho and Balotelli and Nocerino fired over the bar from an Abate cross.

However despite Milan’s early dominance, Siena took the lead against the run of play. Alessandro Rosina crossed and a defensive lapse allowed Claudio Terzi to head home unmarked after 26 minutes.

The goal should have spurred Milan on but they seemed to lack any real sense of urgency. Milan still controlled the majority of possession but moved forward at a slow pace which allowed Siena to set their stall. Robinho and M’baye Niang were ineffective in attack and Milan entered the half time break still trailing.

Massimiliano Allegri immediately brought on Giampaolo Pazzini at the commencement of the second period but the Rossoneri still lacked any creative inspiration. The Rossoneri continued with patient build-up play and were not able to create any clear cut scoring opportunities. Balotelli had been moved wide on the right to accommodate Pazzini but playing wide largely negated some of Super Mario’s effectiveness. Allegri then introduced El Shaarawy for Nocerino on the hour mark with the final throw of the dice. El Shaarawy immediately brought about some attacking impetus as he looked to get in behind the Siena defence. Within the space of a few minutes he had a shot saved by Pegolo and sent a header narrowly over the bar.

The task seemed to be slipping from the Rossoneri’s hands when Massimo Ambrosini was sent off after 68 minutes. The captain received his second caution of the night for a late sliding tackle on Calello. However minutes later, Siena were reduced to 10 men well when Christian Terlizzi was sent off after receiving his second yellow for a late tackle on Pazzini.

With the Rossoneri staring down the barrel and facing the prospect of playing Europa League football next season, the match was turned on its head in the final 6 minutes. Balotelli was adjudged to of been tugged to the floor in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. As always, Balotelli calmly converted. The Rossoneri needed a victory however and threw everything in attack. Three minutes later, Montolivo sent in a cross which was chested down by Mexes and after his initial shot was saved, he slotted in the rebound.

The scene after the final whistle told the full story. Perhaps in reminiscence of the entire season, the game had been an immense struggle. The entire Milan team and staff celebrated as they had just about managed to sneak over the line and secure Champions League football for next season.

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