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Italy - Serie A
February 10, 2013
• Stadio Is Arenas, Quartu Sant'Elena
Referee: A. Giannoccaro
• Attendance: 9500
V. Ibarbo 45'
M. Balotelli 82'
That's it from me, but you can get in touch on Twitter (@Miles_Chambers) should you fancy. Be sure to stick around on Goal.com for the reaction to this match as well as all the top games from across the world this weekend!
Game over! A fantastically entertaining final 10 minutes after a failry flat first 30, a bristling 15 minutes before half-time that included the Cagliari goal, a scrappy 40 minutes or so which essentially ended in Astori getting sent off and Balotelli equalising, and then those last moments were desperate for the home side, who will be thankful to take a point away from the game!
90' + 4'
Balotelli denied again! The Cagliari keeper saves both the Italian's headed attempts on goal, though after the action is over the referee blows for offside anyway. Balotelli hauls the man who denied him to his feet out of respect.
90' + 3'
Balotelli whips in a fantastic cross from the right wing, which Luca Rossettini almost miskicks into his own net! Moments later, the ball is in the back of the net, but the ball is deemed (correctly) to have gone out of play during the cross from the right-hand flank.
90' + 2'
I. J. O (@ninalowo_) tweeted: "Balotelli is a genius." He's been kicked to death all game by this Cagliari side, so I suspect he was delighted to condemn them to a draw (as it stands).
90' + 1'
Four minutes to play at the Stadio Olimpico.
Kevin-Prince lashes off target once again. That guy needs to find his shooting boots, someday!
Balotelli denied! He rises the highest after appalling defending from the hosts, who completely threw the concept of man-marking out the window during that Milan attack. However, he heads the ball straight at Agazzi from no further than four yards out.
Milan are driving forwards, though Cagliari aren't as heavily on the back foot as they were before the equaliser, despite being a man down now.
With their be a twist in these final minutes? I do hope so! I just can't decide which way it could go...
Good defending from Cagliari forces Kevin-Prince out wide on the right, where is shot is harmless and wide.
Penalty Goal Mario Balotelli
GOAL!! Mario never misses penalties and, sure enough, Balotelli puts it away with ease. Cagliari 1-1 AC Milan!
Yellow/Red Davide Astori
RED CARD! Nailed on! Mario Balotelli is hauled down by Astori, and the Cagliari defender is given his marching orders.
Mexes should really be sent off! He definitely deserved a second yellow card for a clearly-on-purpose handball, but the referee waved on a Cagliari advantage and, during a pause in play, he does nothing.
Elsewhere in Serie A, Pablo Osvaldo attempted an awful penalty that was essentially passed into the Sampdoria keeper's hands. The score at that stage was 1-0 to Samp, but they are now beating Roma 3-1. Udinese are beating Torino 1-0, Pescara are 1-0 up away to Palermo and Bologna are level with Siena 1-1.
A fine header from Conti after an equally adept cross from Cossu, but Abbiati drops down quickly to smother the effort on goal. Proof that a 2-0 lead to the hosts remains in the equation with 15 minutes to go.
Kevin-Prince was dropped for this match, and that poor pass to Bojan explains why. it was far too heavy for the forward and skidded out for a Cagliari goal kick.
Milan continue their fruitless search from an equaliser, but they really have the home side on the back foot now. The pressure is firmly on Cagliari to defend their slender lead in this last 19 minutes plus stoppage time.
Yellow Card Daniele Dessena
Balotelli might have played poorly, but he's being kicked left, right and centre by the Rossoblu. Dessena gets a deserved yellow for hacking the €22 million man down.
Yellow Card Davide Astori
Astori is the latest player to enter the referee's book for a rash tackle on Balotelli. The game had started amicably but it's spiralled into scrappiness awfully quickly since Cagliari took the lead.
Bojan Krkic is one the pitch now, in place of the yellow-carded Ambrosini. I can only assume Kevin-Prince will shift back into midfield somewhat.
Kevin-Prince Boateng, who was only just brought on for El Shaarawy, is called offside for running too early on to the crossed free kick. I'd criticise him, but he wasn't the only Rossoneri player to be guilty of jumping the gun.
Balotelli with a fine run into the home side's half, and he wins a free kick as Ekdal pushes him over 40 yards from goal.
Yellow Card Massimo Ambrosini
Ambrosini goes from bad to worse as he picks up a yellow card for a clumsy tackle, charging into the back of Cagliari substitute Cossu.
Balotelli's in acres of space at the back post, but Ambrosini lumps a shot over the bar. I imagine the ever-vocal Italian striker will be grumbling some words of discontent at his new Milan team-mate right about now...
Stephan El Shaarawy
If they can't beat Cagliari away from home, what hope do they have against Barcelona? They will play at San Siro beforehand though, so perhaps Milan can get some sort of cushion there.
Olowe Festus Taiwo (@olowetee) tweeted: "With this kind of midfield. Milan is destined to lose this game!"
A poor cross from Niang on the right loops out of play before curling back in after it passes the back post. The relatively ineffective Thiago Ribeiro comes off for Andrea Cossu.
This game is fast becoming scrappy. The two teams have been penalised 19 times combined during the first 55 minutes.
Maverick (@fiadormaverick) tweeted: "Balotelli is really quiet, El Shaarawy doing quiet well and Muntari toooo. But i think Milan will carry the day...."
At the other end of the pitch, Balotelli is hauled down by Conti, almost certainly on purpose. That cheeky chap. Balotelli takes the free kick... and he hammers it into the wall. A waste.
Yellow Card Daniele Conti
Conti goes close for Cagliari! A Mexes mistake allows the Cagliari captain to fire just over from 25 yards.
A very odd concession of the ball from Agazzi, who chooses to pass it out of play when under pressure rather than hoof it up the pitch.
Sau tries to be a clever clogs, but he backheels the ball into the feet of Mexes.
Yellow Card Nicola Murru
Nicola Murru puts his boot into Niang's waist accidentally (I hope) during a challenge, and he's swiftly given a yellow card while Niang remains floored.
The referee gets the second half under way!
Bruno Lumbe and Nelly Emeka Onyeka have both tweeted me saying that Mario Balotelli will score. He hasn't played very well so far, but we shall see...
Remember that you can tweet @Miles_Chambers, and you can have your comments put into this play-by-play.
Half-time comes immediately after that goal. What a terrific time to score; Milan will need a good talking to from Allegri during the break.
Assist Daniele Conti
Goal Víctor Ibarbo
GOAL!! Cagliari have taken the lead and what a beautiful goal it is! Rossoblu captain Conti with a marvellous free-kick into the box, and Ibarbo nods it in with a twisting, glancing, backwards header! Cagliari 1-0 AC Milan!
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
I stand by my statement on the 30-minute mark that the Cagliari coach will be the happier of the two on the sidelines. It's been very equal, but Milan are the more expectant of the two teams.
Cagliari have a second corner after a period of decent pressure.
Thiago Ribeiro shoots from 25 yards but it's blocked by the first defender for a corner.
Daniele Dessena's ball to Sau is controlled poorly by the Rossoblu forward, and Milan regain possession on the edge of their own 18-yard box.
Yellow Card M'Baye Niang
Ekdal is hacked down unnecessarily by Niang and the young Milan attacker is hastily brandished with a booking by the animated referee.
A deflected ball in the box is slightly too heavy for El Shaarawy, and Agazzi rushes out to collect it.
Both sides with a few-too-many slack passes. Andrea Pirlo missed just one of his 75 passes for Juventus yesterday. Something to chew on!
A corner to Cagliari, but De Sciglio does enough to put off Ekdal during his leap at the back post, and his header goes wide for a goal kick to Milan.
...but it's bobbled into the lowered arms of Agazzi.
Balotelli's lining up a free kick from 35 yards...
Massimo Cellini will be the happier of the coaches on the 30-minute mark, as his side have equalled Milan at both ends of the pitch. Massimiliano Allegri won't be worried though, as his team have often taken their time in dismantling defences in recent weeks, to much success.
Balotelli's writhing about a bit on the floor, and there's a break in play as a result.
Corner to Cagliari after a slid interception from Abate. He's got the better of Ibarbo with nearly a third of the match gone but that doesn't mean he's in his pocket for the remainder of the match by any means.
Remember that you can get in touch on Twitter by messaging @Miles_Chambers if you have anything to say on this clash! Score predictions, comments on the match so far and anything else on your mind that's calcio related.
Balotelli is penalised for a poorly timed tackle, but it's nothing malicious and there's no card coming out, and rightly so.
Sau with another fantastic through ball for Ibarbo into the box, but it's rashly looped over Milan keeper Christian Abbiati for a goal kick from 14 yards out to the left of goal.
Strong challenge from Italy international Davide Astori on Niang on the right wing. The reported Milan transfer target had a dreadful game against Netherlands during the week, but today he's looked the part.
Niang's been in hot form lately, and the attacking winger has looked sharp again this afternoon. It'll be interesting to see how he will deal with Balotelli's arrival at San Siro...
Cagliari captain Daniele Conti causes Balotelli to go to ground on the right-hand side of the 18-yard box, but the referee rightly doesn't blow his whistle, and there are no complaints from the Milan forward.
A quiet period follows that Rossoblu burst, which has largely involved Milan passing it around in the middle third.
Majestic close-control dribbling from Ibarbo, as he drives into the box past Milan defenders. but a last-ditch slide tackle from Abate saves the visitors' blushes.
Sau from 25 yards shoots high and wide. An ugly shot but some great build-up play from the Rossoblu.
Milan are attacking down the left via Mattia De Sciglio, but it's proving tough-going so far. Ambrosini lashes a shot on goal from 25 yards but Cagliari goalkeeper Michael Agazzi easily tips it over.
Great ball from Marco Sau for Albin Ekdal, but an even better tackle from Muntari to halt the attack.
Both sets of supporters are in full voice, though obviously the home fans are louder. The action on the pitch has been very subdued, fingers crossed it picks up a bit.
Cagliari attacker Victor Ibarbo drives at compatriot but opposition defender Cristian Zapata, but this time it's unsuccessful. A fascinating Colombian battle in prospect, right there.
Milan wearing white while the Rossoblu are wearing their (surprisingly...) red and blue kit.
And we're off!
The teams are coming out onto the pitch. The last time the home side won against Milan was in October 1998. Can they turn that stat on its head this afternoon?
The Sardinians also have suspension issues - Radja Nainggolan and Danilo Avelar sit out this home game - while Nene is injured, hence he does not start.
Can the Rossoneri continue this mighty fine form? Mario Balotelli starts for the second game running in a front three alongside Stephan El Shaarawy and M'Baye Niang. Riccardo Montolivo's suspension sees Massimo Ambrosini return to action after a while out with a thigh injury.
Fun fact, courtesy of our match preview by Craig Turnbull: Milan were sitting in 12th place in Week 13 in Serie A. Since then, they have picked up 25 points from a possible 30 to go joint-fourth and are the form team in Italy!
AC Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Mexes, Zapata, De Sciglio; Flamini, Ambrosini, Muntari; Niang, Balotelli, El Shaarawy.
Cagliari: Agazzi; Pisano, Astori, Rossettini, Murro; Dessena, Conti, Ekdal; Thiago Ribeiro, Sau, Ibarbo.
Line-ups, you say? But of course...
Hello! Good afternoon! Welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! coverage of Cagliari v AC Milan! I'm Miles Chambers and I'll be your guide today on all details great and small in this Serie A battle.
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