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March 8, 2014
• 12:00 PM
• Dacia Arena, Udine
Referee: C. Russo
• Attendance: 20797
A. Di Natale 67'
Clarence Seedorf will hope that his rested stars can help Milan to overturn their 1-0 first leg Champions League deficit against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday while Udinese return to action next Monday when they travel to Roma. Thanks for joining me, Max Bentley, on this live commentary. Until next time, goodbye.
Milan will rue those missed first-half chances but they were certainly second-best in the second half and could not deal with Udinese's quick midfield pressing. That result means that Francesco Guidolin's side are now ten points above the relegtation zone while Milan fall to their tenth league defeat of the season.
FT: Udinese 1-0 Milan. Antonio Di Natale's ninth league goal of the season ensures the Rossoneri suffer back-to-back defeats for the first time in the Clarence Seedorf era.
90' + 1'
Milan are desperately searching for the equaliser but the ball is down the other end. It seems that Seedorf's gamble to rest his players for the Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid has backfired here.
Guidolin decides to make another change to run down the clock as Basta comes on for Pereyra. Udinese are just minutes away from a second successive win against Milan.
Zapata has looked shaky on his return to the Friuli and he is nearly exposed by Muriel's pace down the left, only to see Abbiati rush off his line and smother the ball.
Balotelli is certainly capable of the spectacular but his ambitious free kick from distance is comfortably saved by Scuffet, much to the delight of the home support. The 17-year-old has been impressive today and looks a good goalkeeping prospect.
Francesco Guidolin looks to shore up the Udinese midfield for the final five minutes as he introduces Badu in place of Pinzi. Can the Zebrette hold on?
Balotelli has helped to stretch this Udinese defence since coming on but on this occasion, he cannot pick out the run of Pazzini in the box. Milan are just seven minutes away from the first set of back-to-back defeats in the Seedorf era.
Milan are desperate to find the equaliser but Essien is denied when his ambitious long-range attempt skews high and wide of the target. The former Chelsea and Real Madrid star has not had the desired impact from the bench.
Moments after Scuffet produces a fine save to deny Essien, Udinese attack down the other end. Muriel uses his pace to evade Zapata down the left but the Colombian's effort is well held by Abbiati.
Antonio Di Natale
Di Natale receives a standing ovation as his number illuminates on the fourth official's board. The 36-year-old trudges off and he is replaced by the fresh legs of Muriel.
Milan are looking ragged in the midfield and Essien's error gifts possession to Udinese. Di Natale is at the heart of it once again as he picks out Allan but the Brazilian's curling effort goes narrowly wide of the top corner.
Di Natale steps up to take the free kick but his powerful effort curls over the bar. Can Udinese find a second goal to kill off this tie?
Tempers are beginning to boil over here and Essien is fortunate to escape a booking when his studs-up tackle brings down Pereyra. Di Natale, back on the field, is sizing up this free kick.
There is a concern for Udinese here as Di Natale goes down following a challenge from Emanuelson. The 36-year-old limps off the field to receive treatment.
A third and final change for Milan as Taarabt comes on to replace Muntari. Can the on-loan QPR man make the difference?
BALOTELLI FIRES OVER! The enigmatic striker looks to level the scores in Udine but his shot from distance - with teammates better placed - goes high over the bar.
That marks Di Natale's ninth goal in Serie A this season. Clarence Seedorf will not be impressed with his side's defending there.
Assist Bruno Fernandes
Goal Antonio Di Natale
DI NATALE GIVES UDINESE THE LEAD! It's a superb team goal from the Zebrette as they once again take advantage of Milan's eagerness to attack. Pereyra produces a fine pass to send Fernandes clear down the left and he looks up to pick out Di Natale who coolly rolls the ball beyond Abbiati.
Milan's eagerness for a goal is starting to leave them exposed at the back and they survive another scare here. Di Natale spots the run of Pereyra at the back post and the Argentine climbs above De Sciglio but can only direct his header over the top.
Seedorf decides to make his second change as Balotelli makes his long-awaited return to replace Robinho. The Brazilian can be relatively pleased with his input today.
HUGE LET-OFF FOR MEXES! The French defender's wild swipe at the ball in his own box allows Widmer to claim possession. The Swiss wideman exchanges passes with Di Natale but the pair cannot punish Mexes' lack of concentration as the veteran striker's shot slices wide of the target. That was a huge chance for Guidolin's side.
Udinese have looked bright going forward but the Zebrette have lacked quality with their final ball on numerous occasions. Heurtaux drives forward from defence but he cannot pick out the darting run of Gabriel Silva, allowing Milan to recover possession.
Clarence Seedorf opts to make his first change as Essien replaces Birsa. That should give Milan some more steel in the midfield with Honda and Robinho pushing further forward.
HONDA TO THE RESCUE! Udinese have a great chance when Di Natale spots the run of Pereyra on the left side of the box. However, his pass lacks conviction and that allows Honda to race back and make a timely sliding challenge. Great end-to-end play at the Friuli.
Udinese immediately pour down the other end but they cannot break the deadlock as Bubnjic's ambitious pot shot drags inches wide of Abbiati's goal. It seems as though Michael Essien will be introduced for the visitors.
Honda has looked sharp in the Milan midfield today and his clever flick aims to play in Robinho. However, Allan tracks the run of his countryman brilliantly to make another crucial interception.
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
MEXES BOOKED! Widmer has made a bright start to the second half and he bursts towards the box to latch onto Pizzi's clever reverse pass. However, the Swiss wing-back is denied a route to goal as he is cynically hauled to the floor by Mexes. The Frenchman duly accepts the yellow card which will keep him out of Milan's next league match.
ROBINHO GOES CLOSE! Emanuelson has produced some good crosses down the left and his accurate delivery picks out Robinho in the middle. The Brazilian gets across Domizzi to win the header but Scuffet reacts well to punch his effort to safety.
Widmer shows good determination to get clear down the right and he fizzes a teasing ball across the six-yard box. However, both the Udinese attack and the Milan defence are statuesque as the ball runs out of play on the far side.
The teams re-emerge from the tunnel for the second half and Udinese get the game back underway. There have been no substitutions for either side although Mario Balotelli did enjoy an intense warm-up during the half-time period.
HT: Udinese 0-0 Milan. No goals at the break but there has been plenty of attacking endeavour from both teams in the first half. Roberto Pereyra had a glorious chance to open the scoring early on for Udinese after Cristian Zapata's mistake but the majority of the chances have fallen to the visitors. Giampaolo Pazzini and Zapata have both been culpable of spurning close-range headers while Thomas Heurtaux produced a fantastic block to deny Sulley Muntari. I'll be surprised if this one ends goalless.
45' + 1'
Allan has been impressive in the Udinese midfield and he snaps at the heels of Birsa quickly to win back possession for the Zebrette. It seems this one will be goalless at the break.
There is a stoppage in play as Muntari kicks the ball out of play when Pinzi falls to the turf in pain. However, the Italian gingerly returns to his feet after a brief pause and play continues.
The referee has a word with Heurtaux and Mexes as the two Frenchman tussle from a Milan corner. The Rossoneri cannot take advantage of this set-piece situation however as Montolivo's delivery is easily hacked to safety at the front post.
CHANCE FOR UDINESE! Di Natale again causes problems as he controls Allan's cross superbly before firing an effort at goal. However, his shot deflects off the legs of Mexes and goes behind for a corner. Milan clear their lines from the resulting set-piece.
Pazzini is starting to put himself about up front now and he does well to win a free kick on the right when he is brought down by Bubnjic. Montolivo whips a teasing cross into the middle but Honda's header glances narrowly wide. Udinese are looking vulnerable from set-pieces here.
Widmer has shown plenty of energy down the Udinese right and he drives to the byline before attempting to pick out Di Natale in the middle. It looks to be going straight to the veteran talisman but Mexes gets a crucial toe on the ball to divert the ball to safety.
It's all Milan at the moment and they call Scuffet into action again as Robinho's effort from the edge of the box is parried by the 17-year-old who manages to collect the ball at the second attempt.
GOOD SAVE FROM SCUFFET! Milan are in the ascendency at the moment and Udinese have their 17-year-old goalkeeper to thank that they are still level as he produces a fine fingertipped save to deny Pazzini who had got ahead of Domizzi to meet De Sciglio's fine right-wing cross.
ZAPATA SHOULD SCORE! The former Udinese defender misses a golden chance to put Milan ahead as he ghosts towards the back post unmarked to meet Emanuelson's corner. With nobody around him, all he has to do is keep his effort down but he somehow manages to nod it over the top.
Honda has shown some neat touches in this first half and he lays a pass off to Birsa some 30 yards from goal. The Slovenian takes a touch before setting his sights and his goalbound effort deflects off Allan and behind for a corner.
Pazzini has been given a rough 28 minutes by the Udinese defence and the masked striker vents his frustration to the referee when he is barged to the turf by Domizzi. It's not been his day so far.
HEURTAUX TO THE RESCUE! Robinho's clever spin on the edge of the box allows Honda to feed Muntari in space. However, the Ghanaian is denied the opening goal as Heurtaux flings himself bravely in front of the shot to prevent it nestling into the bottom corner.
GOOD EFFORT FROM DI NATALE! At 36, he has still got it. The Udinese veteran produces a delightful touch to pluck Widmer's cross out of the air and he goes close to opening the scoring when his fierce drive flashes narrowly wide of Abbiati's near post.
Birsa is looking to make an impact on a rare start and he does well to burst beyond Widmer but he cannot produce the cross to match as his effort goes wildly behind for a goal kick. Seedorf has taken a big risk today with the number of attacking players he has rested, will it pay off?
It's been a tightly-contested opening 20 minutes here with both teams creating a number of presentable opportunities. Who can break the deadlock?
Yellow Card Mattia De Sciglio
De Sciglio picks up Milan's second booking of the game after his mistimed challenge on Gabriel Silva.
Udinese have a chance of their own when Di Natale floats a ball into the Milan box. Widmer ghosts in to meet it, but his first touch lets him down and Abbiati reacts quickly to smother the ball and prevent the Swiss wing-back from poking in the rebound.
GREAT CHANCE FOR MILAN! De Sciglio has shown plenty of attacking endeavour down the right and he gets into a good position once again to collect Montolivo's neat slipped pass down the right. The young Italian gets to the byline and floats a superb cross towards the back post - which the young Udinese goalkeeper flaps at - but Pazzini does not anticipate it and can only send his close-range effort the wrong side of the post.
As soon as Pereyra picks up the ball on the left wing, Di Natale shows his experience with a clever darting run in behind Mexes. However, the Argentine's pass lacks precision and the French defender backpedals to head the ball to safety.
Yellow Card Bruno Fernandes
A second yellow card is quick to follow and it is now one apiece as Fernandes goes into the book for a foul on Emanuelson.
Yellow Card Sulley Muntari
Muntari picks up the first booking of the game after his mistimed challenge on Widmer.
Pazzini collects the ball with his back to the Udinese goal, looking for teammates. However, once again the Italian striker cannot hold off the Udinese defence and Allan steals back possession. Clarence Seedorf will be expecting more from his lone centre-forward as this game progresses.
De Sciglio plays a searching ball down the right channel for Pazzini to chase. However, the Milan striker is muscled off the ball too easily by Bubnjic and it runs out for a goal kick. The Udinese players are pressing very high up the pitch here.
Moments after Heurtaux nods a corner over the Milan goal, the Rossoneri launch an attack of their own down the right. De Sciglio does well to get to the byline and dig out a cross but Pazzini can only head over the top. Good start here in Udine.
UDINESE SHOULD BE AHEAD! Zapata's weak challenge on Pereyra allows the Argentine midfielder to race through clean on goal but he cannot put the hosts ahead as his one-on-one attempt is too close to Abbiati. Huge let-off for Milan!
Milan have made a bright start and Robinho looks to launch their first attack with a powerful run towards goal. However, his fellow countryman Allan reads his intentions excellently and makes a well-timed challenge.
Carmine Russo blows his whistle and Pazzini, sporting a face mask, gets the ball rolling. A win for Clarence Seedorf's side today would take them up to eighth place in Serie A.
The teams emerge from the tunnel, both in their familiar first-choice jerseys. Udinese engage in a pre-match huddle and it is Milan who will get the game underway.
Milan's 2-1 Coppa Italia defeat to Udinese in January was their first loss under Clarence Seedorf. Can they avenge that result today? Kick-off is under five minutes away...
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Zapata, Mexes, Emanuelson; Montolivo, Muntari; Honda, Birsa, Robinho; Pazzini.
UDINESE (3-5-1-1): Scuffet; Heurtaux, Domizzi, Bubnjic; Widmer, Pinzi, Allan, Pereyra, Gabriel Silva; Bruno Fernandez; Di Natale.
MILAN TEAM NEWS: The big news for Milan is that Mario Balotelli returns to the bench after his recent shoulder injury, with Giampaolo Pazzini retaining the lone striking berth. With eyes focused on the midweek Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid, Clarence Seedorf decides to hand rests to Kaka, Michael Essien, Adel Taarabt and Adil Rami. Cristian Zapata therefore makes his long-awaited return from a hamstring problem while Valter Birsa, Robinho and Keisuke Honda are all given a chance to impress.
UDINESE TEAM NEWS: Francesco Guidolin's side are without the suspended Danilo in defence but Ivan Bubnjic has made a timely return from injury to take his place. Bruno Fernandes starts behind Antonio Di Natale, thereby pushing Roberto Pereyra into a deeper midfield role while 17-year-old Simone Scuffet retains his place between the sticks.
The Stadio Friuli has been somewhat a bogey ground for Milan in recent years, with the Rossoneri winning only once in their last five visits. That came back in February 2012 when goals from Maxi Lopez and Stephan El Shaarawy gave them a 2-1 win. In fact, Milan coach Clarence Seedorf was playing that day.
It appears to be a tale of two underperforming sides at the Stadio Friuli today as Udinese attempt to bounce back from last week's 3-0 defeat to Cagliari which left them just seven points above the relegation zone. As for Milan, they will also hope to get back to winning ways after their first-half profligacy against Juventus last weekend cost them dearly as they fell to a 2-0 defeat.
Good afternoon and welcome to this live Serie A commentary between Udinese and Milan. While the European positions may be a tough task to ask of both these sides, you can expect a fiery encounter today with Milan looking to avenge their 2-1 Coppa Italia defeat to the Zebrette at the end of January.
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