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Italy - Serie A
December 20, 2011
• Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari
Referee: D. Orsato
• Attendance: 12584
F. Pisano 4' (own goal)
Z. Ibrahimovic 61'
Thanks a lot for joining Goal.com for our LIVE commentary tonight. Remember to stick with us for all the post-match news and analysis, including match report. My name is Tom Webber and it has been a pleasure. Have a fantastic evening!
Despite not being the better side, Milan have come away with the three points they desperately wanted. They now have a chance of being top over Christmas, depending on Juventus' result tomorrow night.
The referee blows for full time and Milan return to the top of Serie A! After Cagliari hit the post early on they were pegged back immediately by Milan as Pisano sent into his own net. They could not find a goal their play deserved and were punished once again as Ibrahimovic made it two in the second half.
90' + 4'
Into the final minute now. Milan look to wind down the clock but Abbiati gives the ball away. Nainggolan drills a shot at goal but its straight at the Milan keeper in what will likely be their final attempt.
90' + 2'
Rui Sampaio and Ibarbo with another give-and-go. And again the Portuguese just can't reach the ball. It is won by Thiago Silva and cleared away.
There are four minutes of added time. Cossu fires a feral shot at goal and the fans start to filter out of the stadium. Not just because of that miss though!
Cagliari have left it late but are showing a bit of urgency. A good run by Ibarbo earns the hosts their seventh corner of the game. It's played short to Cossu but it's headed away yet again. They have been poor aerially in attack tonight.
Agostini lashes a shot on goal from the left point of the 18-yard box. It goes straight at Abbiati who has looked extremely comfortable on his return to the first team.
More possession for Cagliari but they still have nothing to show for it. They have a throw close to the Milan byeline but it is headed away strongly by Thiago Silva.
Mark van Bommel
More scrappy play as Nainggolan and Pato both give the ball away in quick succession. Rui Sampaio plays the ball to Ibarbo who quickly returns it but the Portuguese fails to get a shot off.
Nainggolan gets forward once again down the left. His puts in a cross but it's just behind Thiago Ribeiro who stretches, but fails to collect the ball.
Another potentially dangerous set-piece opportunity here for Cagliari. Cossu's delivery is once again headed away by Milan who counter through Ibrahimovic and Pato. After a one-two Pato is too close to Agazzi and fails to elevate the ball over the keeper. Almost a third for Milan.
Nainggolan has had a fantastic came tonight. He has been tireless in the middle of the park and shown great distribution. His shooting has left a little to be desired but if you don't shoot you don't score!
Cagliari are beginning to look a bit tired. They are not holding as much possession as in the first half and are instead opting for the long ball which the Milan defence looks comfortable in dealing with.
Agostini does well to break down the left flank showing fantastic pace. His ball into the box is intercepted by Ambrosini though. Cagliari manage to hold on to possession but nothing comes of it as a stray pass goes to Abbiati.
We're into the final 20 minutes now. Both sides look to launch attacks but send passes that are far too long.
Yellow Card Joaquin Larrivey
They do not. As the players rush in the ball is delivered behind them and Ibrahimovic clears. They will need something soon if they hope to take anything from this game.
Nocerino gives a free kick away in a dangerous area. Cossu to deliver, will they make the most of it?
The Rossoblu won't give up. They launch another attack and Thiago Ribeiro has an effort on goal but once again it drifts wide of the far post.
Boateng passes to Robinho on the edge of the area and the Brazilian dinks a delightful pass to Ibrahimovic. The big unit's first touch is poor and it almost runs out of play. In the end he gives away a throw.
Yellow Card Daniele Bonera
It's unfortunate for Cagliari they have made an admirable attempt to go for all three points tonight but have been put to the sword by the clinical Milan strikers. Not enough chances created with their possession.
Goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic
GOOOAAAAALLLL!!! IBRAHIMOVIC!! Typically deadly finish from the Swede. He latched on to Robinho's knockdown, beating Agazzi to the ball and lifting the ball over the onrushing keeper to score Milan's second of the night.
Rainggolan has another strike on goal. Better this time but still off target. The Rossoblu are at risk of leaving themselves exposed if they continue to press so high and in vast numbers.
HE'S MISSED IT!! Greedy from Robinho! After a patient build up the Brazilian plays a give-and-go with Ibrahimovic. He rounds the keeper but opts to shoot rather than pull the ball back. He has to spin through about 270 degrees to get the shot off and sends it over the bar.
The start to this half has been far more competitive. The hosts are not relenting in their search for an opening goal but look like they could leave themselves vulnerable to a Milan side eager to punish them.
Two great chances for Cagliari. First of all Larrivey fails to get onto the end of a great delivery. Then Thiago Ribeiro floats a ball to Ibarbo at the back post but he can't generate enough power or direction to beat Abiatti.
Milan are showing a bit more urgency now. Aquilani shakes free of Canini on the 18-yard line and fires a shot at goal. It is straight at Agazzi who just has to sit down to stop the ball. Better from the Rossoneri though.
Cagliari are looking to pick up where they left off and push Milan as far back in their half as they can. They just lack the penetration and killer ball in the final third.
Here we go, 45 minutes separate Milan from the top of the table. Cagliari have looked impressive so far though and will not make it easy for their visitors.
The rain is absolutely pouring down in Sardinia. Things really haven't clicked in attack for Milan tonight but the players have re-emerged, ready for the second half.
The second half is just a few minutes away. As it stands Milan will go top of Serie A tonight until Juventus play tomorrow.
Milan need to vastly improve despite holding the lead. They have struggled to hold on to the ball and apply any pressure to Cagliari's defence. What are your thoughts on the game? Do Milan deserve their lead? Will Cagliari find a way back into it? Let me know via twitter! @thwebber.
Well. The referee blows for half time with no stoppages allowed. It has been an interesting half. Ballardini can be pleased with his sides performance so far and will possibly be wondering how they are behind.
Milan now looking to steal a goal before the break. An attack leads to nothing and Robinho and Ibrahimovic have a bit of a disagreement in the box.
Ibrabo has had a great half for the hosts. His energy and composure on the ball has helped build Cagliari attacks. This time however Thiago Ribeiro sends a shot at goal which dribbles wide. The Rossoblu finding it hard to break through a line of three midfielders ahead of the back four.
Cagliari win a free kick in the Milan half which is taken quickly by Cossu. Agostini then puts the ball into the box and Ariaudo turns it on goal with his head but is adjudged to have pushed Taiwo in the back and the visitors are awarded a free kick.
A great chance goes begging for Cagliari. Another excellent delivery from Cossu is met by the head of Larrivey. The Argentine looks for the top corner but his effort goes high and wide without troubling Abbiati.
Milan caught in possession once again. Fortunately for Allegri's side Ibarbo's ball across the box is too far behind Thiago Ribeiro and Bonera gets back to win the ball.
Some more possession for Cagliari in the final third but a Ekdal goes in a bit too strongly on Ambrosini and flattens the Milan player. The ball is lost but the come straight back at the Rossoneri who need to assert themselves on this game.
Nainggolan does well to win the ball back in the final third but has another attempt on goal. It sprays well wide once again as his shot lacks a bit of finesse.
Despite the distance Ibrahimovic has the confidence to take on a 45 metre strike. Needless to say it lacks the power and rolls along the wet ground into the arms of Agazzi.
Yellow Card Andrea Cossu
Cossu is booked for an unnecessary challenge on Aquilani close to the half way line. The tackle seemed to be borne out of frustration as his team struggle to find the clinical, killer touch.
Cossu puts in two corners in quick succession but neither land on a Cagliari head. The delivery is good but the movement and attacking in the box does not quite match it. You have to make the most of such opportunities against top opposition.
It has been a fairly scrappy half so far with both teams a bit too reckless in possession. Taiwo sends a ball into the box but Agazzi rushes out to beat Robinho to the ball. Cagliari are unperturbed and again control the possession in the Milan half.
Milan's lead is perhaps a bit harsh on the hosts. They have started well, shifting the ball about well and probing for an opening. Improved quality from set-pieces would really help them out now as they continue to search for an equaliser.
Another Cagliari corner is cleared too quickly by the defence. Larrivey was beaten to the header and once again the danger is removed. They should make the most of these set-pieces whilst they have the visitors on the back foot.
Yellow Card Massimo Ambrosini
A poor throw by Bonera deep in his own half almost gifts the ball to Thiago Ribeiro in the box. Fortunately for the Milan defender the bounce gets the better of him. The Rossoneri just can't seem to hold onto the ball at the moment and are struggling to get out of their half.
Cossu drills a shot at the Milan keeper from wide on the right. It travels through a swathe of bodies and Larrivey gets a touch, deflecting it at Abbiati who makes the save. However, it would not have counted as an offisde decision is given against the Argentine.
Ibarbo looks to get in down the right from Nainggolan's ball. He is dispossessed far too easily by Thiago Silva but Aquilani brings down the Belgian just a few moments later. He is involved once again when he sends another shot wayward.
GREAT STRIKE EKDAL!! The former Juventus player sends a powerful, swerving strike at goal from 25 metres. It looks to be bending for the top corner but Abbiati dives and gets a solid hand to the ball, sending it behind for a corner which is wasted.
Milan give the ball away cheaply and Ibarbo takes the chance to get the ball into the box. Mexes makes an absolute hash of clearing it. Two failed attempts before his missed kick is claimed by Abbiati.
Thiago Ribeiro almost finds himself in with a chance of shooting but an awkward drop makes it difficult for him to pull the trigger with any real conviction. Milan are now slowing the tempo as they look to control the possession.
Nainggolan has an effort on goal from distance but it is high and wild. A waste of possession. It looks like Nocerino's goal may go down as an own goal by Pisano, the Cagliari defender got in in front of the Milan man.
What a setback for Rossoblu. They started well with some early pressure but got caught on the first break. They have looked to keep up their high pressing and are enjoying possession in the opposition's half.
Own Goal Francesco Pisano
IT'S IN!! OWN GOAL BY PISANO!! After Milan had their woodwork rattled they go straight up the other end and bag the opening goal. Ibrahimovic finds Robinho in acres of space on the edge of the box. With one touch he's past Agazzi and squares the ball across the goal mouth. In his haste to stop Nocerino tapping in, Pisano slides the ball into his own net!
OFF THE POST!! Cagliari have held the ball well in the opening minutes and moved the ball across the pitch well. Cossu breaks down the right and plays a short ball to Thiago Ribeiro who thumps the ball against the post, low to Abbiati's left. So close for the hosts!
We're underway in Sardinia. Milan are wearing their away kit of all white as the hosts, shooting from right to left, wear their traditional red and blue jersey.
The teams are out for the handshakes now. One correction to the teams in that Urby Emanuelson makes the bench at the expense of Zambrotta. Kick off is just moments away.
Kick off is just five minutes away now. Massimo Allegri has urged his team to perform better, starting tonight against Cagliari. Despite only winning one home game, the Sardinians have proven hard to break down on their own patch. We are surely set for an intriguing encounter tonight!
Milan are unbeaten in their last five away games in the league whilst Cagliari can only claim one win in seven home games. There have been five draws in there too, with their only defeat coming against Lazio in late October.
For the visitors Mexes and Abbiati return and Robinho is chosen ahead of Pato. (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Bonera, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Taiwo; Aquilani, Ambrosini, Nocerino; Boateng; Ibrahimovic, Robinho. Subs: Amelia, van Bommel, Pato, Seedorf, Emanuelson, Antonini, El Shaarawy.
Now for the team news, starting with the hosts Cagliari. (4-3-3): Agazzi; Pisano, Canini, Ariaudo, Agostini; Ekdal, Nainggolan, Cossu; Thiago Ribeiro, Ibarbo, Larrivey. Subs: Gozzi, Perico, Avramov, Dametto, Murru, Rui Sampaio, Ceppelini.
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE text commentary on the Serie A clash between Cagliari and Milan. It's twelfth plays second tonight as the Rossoneri can leapfrog Juventus to the summit of the league as their Turin-based rivals play tomorrow. My name is Tom Webber and I'll be guiding you through tonight's action. You can get involved via twitter, @thwebber is the place to drop me a tweet!
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