Pre-Match And Team News
this match, Milan
were certainly expected to win, and win it easily, despite the fact that they
were without the likes of Ronaldinho, David Beckham and Massimo Ambrosini, all
of whom were left on the bench for this match. Carlo Ancelotti opted to utilize
Pato and Pippo Inzaghi up front for the Rossoneri, whilst Dida remained in
goal, due to the absence of Christian Abbiati who is out for the remainder of
Lecce were almost at full strength for what seemed to be mission impossible, as
they were only without the services of the injured Daniele Cacia. Luigi De
Canio’s men were winless in seven matches prior to this contest; however three
points in this clash would see them leap out of the relegation zone, as both Bologna and Torino went
down in their respective fixtures earlier in the day.
Milan got the play underway in this match, and it certainly was a very opening,
free flowing match early on, as both sides were confident to get numbers
forward with the hope of breaking the deadlock early on. The home side managed
to create the first major opportunity of the contest, as Pirlo’s brilliant long
ball forward was met by Pato, who then placed the ball into the path of Inzaghi
with his head, only to see the veteran smash the ball over the bar from close
The Rossoneri began to
dictate the play, as the visitors struggled to impose themselves in the match.
Having said this though, Lecce
did have the chance to score on 10 minutes, after an impressive play between
Giacomazzi and Tiribocchi, which saw the latter volley the ball first time out
of mid air, after a perfect long ball forward from his team mate, only to see
it sail over the bar.
The Giallorossi continued
to play the traditional counter attacking game, and they saw themselves create
their second glorious opportunity in the space of five minutes, as Caserta’s perfect through
ball, was met by Tiribocchi, who easily got around Favalli; however Dida was up
to the challenge of denying the hitman with a solid save between the sticks.
The match dropped a little in intensity as the half hour mark passed, however
it was brought back to life at the 34 minute mark, when Pato beat two opponents
and tested his luck from long range. The 19-year-old won the ball out of sheer
will, and then powerfully struck a curling effort from all of 35 yards, only to
see it curl just wide of the top right corner.
Ancelotti was forced to
make the first change of the match with just five minutes remaining in the
first half, as Senderos came on to replace the captain of the club Maldini, who
picked up a heavy knock earlier on. Despite the premature switch, nothing
changed from a Milan point of view, as they went
about their business in the same manner, and continued to threaten the Lecce goal.
As the half neared an end,
Pato amazed the fans, as he launched an incredible solo effort that deserved to
end with a goal. Running at full pace, the young Brazilian managed to once
again skip past two defenders, before chipping it over a third in Esposito, and
then see his shot beat Benussi, however trickle inches wide of the target yet
again. The wonder kid was certainly his side’s most dangerous player in the
opening half; however he had not done enough to break the deadlock to this
point, as it was scoreless at the break.
The visitors resumed the play in the second half, however unsurprisingly it was
the home side that picked up from where they left off in the first half.
Immediately Milan were given the space and time to move forward with real
purpose, and it took them less than three minutes to create a brilliant
opportunity on goal, as the likes of Kaka, Pato and Flamini all linked up, as
the latter eventually tested his luck from the edge of the area. His effort was
weak however and easily dealt with by Benussi.
Ancelotti made his second
switch of the night, and it was a decision that was applauded by the Milan tifosi, as the out-of-sorts Seedorf made way for the Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho. It didn’t
take the 2004 and 2005 FIFA World Player of the year long to make his mark on
proceedings either, as he was involved in a number of impressive attacking
plays as the hour mark approached. Most notably, a glorious switch by the
Brazilian, led to Zambrotta crossing it into the area where he picked out Pato. The starlet failed to hit the target with his header though, as he saw it sail agonizingly
close to the top corner yet again.
It was becoming a Brazilian show at the San Siro, as the inclusion of
Ronaldinho seemed to lift Kaka and Pato, who both looked even more menacing
than they already did. The latter in particular continued to threaten the Lecce goal on a countless
number of occasions; however it seemed as if nothing was going right for him in
As the match entered the final 20 minutes of play, it was evident that the
Rossoneri players were beginning to fear another disappointing draw was on the
cards. Pato continued to dominate the match, as he initiated his umpteenth
individual run, as he easily skipped around two opponents, before seeing his
shot well saved by Benussi again. Something had to be done by Ancelotti, and it
was, as the legend of the club Shevchenko was introduced on 78 minutes for
The Rossoneri were absolutely dominant in terms of the statistics in the
contest, as they had over 70% of the possession for the large majority of the
match. Despite this fact though, they failed to lead on the scoreboard, and
incredibly they almost saw themselves go a goal behind in the final ten
minutes, when Munari’s glorious ball into the area was met by the head of
Tiribocchi. The resulting header took a slight deflection however, and a corner
was the result.
Milan won themselves a free
kick in a wonderful position on 86 minutes, with Ronaldinho stepping up to test
his luck. His free kick struck the wall, however the referee judged that the
wall had crept forward prior to the kick being taken, so the Brazilian was
given another chance from a dead ball situation, however this time it was taken
from the edge of the area. Benussi was called upon to make a world class save
to deny the Rossoneri, and once again a corner was the result.
Incredibly in the 91st minute of play, a free kick by Pirlo into the area was
met by the head of Senderos, who celebrated what surely seemed to be the
winning goal. Replays later showed that the ball deflected off the head of
Ronaldinho, meaning that the Brazilian was credited with the goal.
Astonishingly, Inzaghi doubled the home side’s advantage just two minutes
later, when a glorious cross by Shevchenko, allowed the Milan veteran to head home his eighth goal of
the season at the back post.
The referee’s final whistle
meant that the Rossoneri recorded a crucial victory in order to maintain a
comfortable buffer over the likes of Genoa and Fiorentina, whilst Lecce remain
in 19th place, two points adrift of safety. It was a deserved result for
Ancelotti’s men, as they were the better side from start to finish on the
Milan (4-3-1-2): Dida; Zambrotta, Maldini (Senderos, 40’), Favalli, Jankulovski; Flamini,
Pirlo, Seedorf (Ronaldinho, 53’); Kaka (Shevchenko, 78’); Pato, Inzaghi
Lecce (4-4-1-1): Benussi; Polenghi, Esposito,
Fabiano, Vives; Angelo (Giuliatto, 80’), Giacomazzi, Munari, Ariatti (Konan,
89’); Caserta, Tiribocchi (Papadopoulos, 89’)
91’ Ronaldinho (Milan)
93’ Inzaghi (Milan)
Del Monte, Goal.com