On a rainy Monday night in Milan, forward leaning Udinese travelled to San Siro to take on the “Winter Champions” Milan, injury depleted, with Zambrotta, Pirlo, Nesta, Flamini, Boateng all out injured, as well as captain Ambrosini suspended. However with the returning Ibrahimovic, the newly fit Pato and the explosive Cassano all mean that was set up for goals from kick off.
However 8 goals, split evenly, including 6 goals in the second half and two last minute strikes mean that this was very un – Italian fixture.
The game had a slow start, with Udinese the better of the two sides, pressing well with Inter target Sanchez and the ever impressive Di Natale causing problems to the Milan backline, who clearly missed Nesta and really do need to make some defensive purchases in the transfer window, because the likes of Antonini and Bonera were struggling with the pace and precison of Udinese’s forwards.
Milan did have chances, with Pato and Robinho forging their own chances, but when captain and Serie A leading scorer Di Natale finshed from Inler’s effort. on 35 minutes.
Milan equalised 10 minutes, later following a typically patient, passing move concluding with Pato finishing from Ibrahimovic’s assist, after the Swede made space in the box for himself. The equaliser was against the run of play, but the score was indeed level.
After the break, it was the Rossineri who started well, but Udinese took the lead again when Sanchez got ahead of Bonera to head home. They then made it three when the Milan defence was caught from a quick counter and Di Natale finished coolly.
At this point, with 20 minutes left, at 3-1, it would be have been logical to assume that Milan were going to have do pull something really special to get back in to the game. And it was the bit of luck that you sometimes need to get result’s in football, and that was the head of Benatia that gave Thiago Silva’s thunderbolt the lift it needed, and it flew over the excellent Handanovic, who despte conceding 4, had a superb game between the sticks.
Milan piled on the pressure, and found the equaliser when super sub Cassano’s pass found Pato in the box, who turned beautifully and finished.
This was with 8 minutes to go, and Udinese got Milan on the counter yet again making it 4-3, taking advantage of Milan’s shoddy defending and substitute Denis finished home. But it was not to be the fairy tale game for underdogs Udinese, and Cassano’s slide rule pass found Ibrahimovic in the 3rd minute of stoppage time, who controlled excellently under pressure and slotted home the finish.
As wonderful as the game was, with all it’s twists and turns, flicks tricks and goals, it proves yet again, that AC Milan need to buy a centreback and probably a left back too. WIth Nesta now 34 and Bonetra unable to deal with the pace and trickery of Sanchez and Di Natale, Milan need to make waves in the transfer market. If they bought say, David Luiz from Benfica, and Criscito from Genoa, then you have a defence that could keep for a decade. But alas, it appears to be the intention of Berlusconi to have 5 or 6 world class forwards before 3 first choice centrebacks, meaning that Milan will be the victim of pace for a while yet, which makes for worrying news when one looks at the Tottenham fixture in February.
However the silverlining to the Rossineri’s defensive cloud came in the shape of Antonio Cassano, who was simply majestic for the 20 minutes he got, despite his fitness levels. 3 vital assists in approximately 45 minutes of football is a fantastic record, and proves that when fully fit, Fantonio could form that partnership with Ibrahimovic that every neutral fan in the world would like to see.
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