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Italy - Serie A
January 26, 2014
• Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari
Referee: D. Doveri
• Attendance: 5000
M. Sau 28'
M. Balotelli 87'
G. Pazzini 89'
That's all that we have time for from Milan's dramatic 2-1 win over Cagliari in Sardinia, as two goals in three minutes save Seedorf's league record. I've been Simon Harrison, and I hope to see you all again next time.
A very unconvincing performance from Milan, but their fans won't mind, given a good three points for the visitors. A great goal from Marco Sau following a smart bit of skill gave Cagliari the lead, but the hosts just couldn't hold on to get a share of the spoils.
FULL TIME! Back to back league victories for Milan for the first time in their current Serie A campaign, thanks to two goals in three minutes from Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini. Seedorf has somehow seen his side overturn a deficit which looked entirely beyond the Rossoneri.
90' + 4'
Only a minute left for Seedorf's side to ride out, to finally take some points away from home, as the Rossoneri have really struggled on their travels this season. Avramov has been left helpless by two efforts that he couldn't get anywhere near.
90' + 2'
PAZZINI! The returning striker heads narrowly over the crossbar from point-blank range, and is relieved to see the linesman's flag raised for offside. Milan are happy to waste time now, given their miraculous turnaround.
Five minutes of stoppage time have been awarded, giving either side the opportunity to find the net once again.
Assist Keisuke Honda
Yellow Card Andrea Cossu
Goal Giampaolo Pazzini
PAZZINI! GOOOOOOOAL FOR MILAN! They've won it! Two goals in two minutes, as he pokes an excellent finish inside the near post from a corner! It's an instinctive, clever finish, and Milan lead away from home!
Fantastic defensive header from Astori, turning Kaka's cross away from the head of Balotelli! The Italy international was inches away from converting his second of the game. He then gets involved in an argument was Cossu, and needs to be careful.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Goal Mario Balotelli
GOOOOOOOOOOOAL! BALOTELLI SCORES TO BRING MILAN LEVEL! It's a free-kick, curved into the near post, beating Avramov all ends up! It's a great free kick, and Milan are right back in this!
Yellow Card Matías Cabrera
Five minutes left to play, and Milan need a goal from somewhere. Kaka takes a corner short to De Sciglio, whose cross is punched away comprehensively by Avramov. The visitors are piling on some late pressure, in the form of corners.
KAKA! ABATE! The Brazilian rises well at the back post, but can only turn the ball back across goal. Dessena gets in front of the second effort, deflecting behind for a corner. Honda takes the set piece, and it fails to even reach the first man. Terrible.
What a terrible effort! Balotelli takes the free kick himself, firing a lacklustre effort towards goal from 30 yards, which bounces twice before going wide of the post. Milan have really lacked any inspiration, and are playing almost as though it's a friendly.
Astori is able to head a dangerous ball away, as Pazzini tries to peel off his man and threaten at the back post. Milan then pick up a free kick, as Balotelli goes down under an innocuous challenge from Astori.
Abate replaces Emanuelson, allowing for De Sciglio to move into left-back, giving Milan two good offensive options from full-back. Often, their transitions have been too quick for their supporting cast to come and offer themselves on the outside, so it's certainly an interesting change with Birsa and Cristante on the bench too.
Half chance for Cagliari, as Montolivo is robbed of the ball by Cabrera, before a cross is clipped into the area in search of Pinilla. The Chilean can't quite get on the end of it though, and the ball bounces out of play for a goal kick.
Milan are continuing to be frustrated, as Cagliari's energy levels aren't dropping, with their pressing continuing to be effective. The away side are always rushed in possession, hampering their ability to break. Eriksson replaces Ekdal, as the hosts look to stay fresh.
PINILLA! Cabrera and Pinilla combine beautifully, with the Chilean spinning off his marker and being fed in behind by the substitute. He unleashes a powerful strike from a tight angle, beating Amelia, but the ball whistles millimetres wide of the far post.
Twenty minutes left on the clock, and Milan still can't find that clinical touch. Seedorf's side have certainly had their chances, especially from the sources of Honda and Balotelli, who have fired the majority of their efforts straight at Avramov.
Seedorf opts to change one of his defensive midfield options, throwing on Muntari, who has proved this season that he does have an eye for the odd goal. Milan are chasing this game, and should they not pick up an equaliser in the last 20 minutes, they'll be a staggering 31 points behind league leaders Juventus.
Nigel De Jong
BALOTELLI! The Italy international is slotted into a pocket of space on the edge of the box, before taking a touch and firing a dipping shot towards goal. Avramov is easily equal to it, as the strike is straight at him. Milan are really lacking that cutting edge and clinical touch.
Cossu drives the length of the field, looking to clip a ball into the box in search of Cagliari's strikeforce, but it is deflected behind for a corner. The set piece delivery is good, but Astori just can't quite make contact with the ball to turn it towards goal.
HONDA! Good block from Pisano to deny the new Rossoneri playmaker! Rossettini gives away the ball cheaply, allowing for the Japan international to drive into the penalty box and pummel an effort directly at the body of Pisano.
Awful cross from Dessena, as the midfielder puts the ball out of play for a goal kick for Milan. Balotelli appears to be peeling out to the left on more occasions, with Pazzini taking the central striking role. Balotelli centres a cross, looking for Honda, but Murru covers across well to make the clearance.
Seedorf is the first manager to make a change, throwing on Pazzini in place of Robinho, who flitted in and out of the game. Having two strikers on the field makes sense for Milan, given that they're lacking a cutting edge, despite creating a reasonable amount of chances.
Yellow Card Daniele Conti
HONDA! Another half chance, as the Japanese midfielder drives upfield, plays a one-two with Robinho, before dinking an effort over the crossbar, rather than testing Avramov. That was a strange decision, he opted to try and chip the goalkeeper, while the Serbian was positioned on his line.
ROBINHO! Great challenge by Astori! The big defender got across well to throw a leg at Robinho's strike, leaving the Brazilian in a heap. The Milan forward claims for a corner, but the referee gives a goal kick, strangely, given the way Astori bulldozed into his man.
Cagliari are looking composed, holding onto the ball and looking to frustrate Seedorf's side. The Dutchman has got plenty of work to do in order to improve this team, but their defensive absences have cost them so far this afternoon. Had Bonera and Amelia not been on the pitch, it's doubtful that these two sides would have been able to break the deadlock.
BALOTELLI! WHAT A CHANCE! He was fortunate to see the ball find its way to his feet in a hectic penalty area, but wildly slices his effort over the crossbar from eight yards out. That was a real chance for Milan, but their key man couldn't find the target.
A few stoppages in play due to rash challenges and some treatment have stalled the progress of this second half. Cossu whips in a free-kick from the right hand side, but Montolivo is present on the front post to hoof the ball clear.
De Jong is penalised for a strong challenge on Sau, despite getting the ball, perhaps due to the goalscorer making a meal of the tackle. The Dutchman has really imposed himself in the midfield area, breaking up play and intimidating Cagliari's creative forces.
Milan continue to look worrying when their central defenders are in possession, as both Bonera and Amelia are unsure in the strong winds. There seems to be a lack of confidence in the Milan back line, and it wouldn't be surprising to see more mistakes stem from it.
MONTOLIVO! First chance of the half goes to Milan. Balotelli drives through a ruck of red and blue shirts, before sliding the ball wide to Honda. The Japan international squares the ball, it's half cleared by Astori, and Montolivo can only arrow a shot wide of the target from the edge of the area.
We are back underway for the second half, and the Rossoneri have it all to do in Sardinia! A Marco Sau goal has given the home side a valuable lead, as they look to put some breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone. Seedorf certainly hasn't had a smooth start to managerial life!
Chances have fallen to Honda and Balotelli, but neither have been able to convert, with Milan's best opportunities coming from the marauding De Sciglio. A makeshift back four isn't performing well for the Rossoneri, with Seedorf presumably very keen for Abbiati to recover from his illness as soon as is humanely possible.
HALF TIME! Seedorf's men have it all to do in the second half, as a lacklustre Milan fail to capitalise on several great chances, before a comedy of errors gives Cagliari something to defend. The Sardinia-based outfit are plucky and resilient at home, leaving Milan the requirement of an inspired performance to turn things around.
Half chance for Pinilla! The Chilean sees a shot charged down from ten yards out, after some comical defending from Bonera. The Italian defender misses the ball entirely with an attempted clearance, forcing Rami to improvise to try and hack clear. Milan aren't at their best, that's for sure.
Cagliari continue to look dangerous on the break, with Milan struggling to turn some good deliveries into goals. A few minutes until the break, and Seedorf might want to see his team return without conceding a second goal, with some terrible defending on show.
Five minutes until the half time break, and Seedorf's men have got it all to do to turn this around. Cagliari break yet again, but Bonera is able to stand up tall, block the cross from Cossu, and then feed the ball into midfield.
HONDA! Another great chance for the away side! De Sciglio delivers well from the right flank, picking out the head of the Japanese midfielder, but he can only turn the delivery onto the palms of Avramov. Either side of the Serbian keeper, and that would have been the equaliser.
MONTOLIVO! The central midfielder has an effort from 30 yards, after Robinho's free-kick delivery is half cleared, but he can't keep it down. That shot nearly goes into orbit, with Avramov happy to watch it on its way.
Good delivery from Pisano, but nobody in red and blue is there for the hosts, to turn it home! The back post cross loops narrowly over De Sciglio, with nobody steaming it to capitalise. Milan could well rue their earlier missed chances, as Cagliari could so easily go two goals in front here.
Great header from Astori, as the towering central header defends his near post well, with Balotelli waiting narrowly behind him. Avramov hasn't been tested for 15 minutes, and Milan's creative spark just isn't present, despite a reputable trio slotting in behind Balotelli.
Milan have responded to going behind quite well, seeing more of the ball, though Cagliari may be content to take a breather and sit back for a while. Robinho whips in a cross towards Honda, but Murru does enough to deflect the delivery away from the danger zone.
Cagliari will be pleased to take the lead, after spending the best part of ten minutes pushing forward and testing Milan's back four. Amelia has proved to be the weak link thus far, putting Bonera in danger with several poor passes, and the second-choice goalkeeper has now made things very hard for his teammates, by gifting Cagliari the lead.
Assist M. Pinilla
Goal Marco Sau
GOOOOOAL! SAU CONVERTS TO MAKE IT 1-0 TO THE HOSTS! A poor clearance from Amelia gives the ball straight to Pinilla, before the Chilean dinks the ball into Sau eight yards from goal. Sau sends Bonera and Amelia the wrong way with a clever turn, before slotting the ball into an empty net.
Good defensive work from Rami, as the former Valencia outmuscles Pinilla and shields the ball back to Amelia, who collects. Milan have gone a little bit quiet in the past ten minutes, with Cagliari seeing much more of the ball in Milan's half. Bonera is then forced to clear, following a dangerous cross from Murru.
Montolivo is left in a heap, as Cagliari's frantic pressing continues to give De Jong and his Italian central midfield partner little influence on the game. Rami makes an important defensive header to prevent a cross from reaching Sau.
CONTI! A rare strike from the midfielder from 30 yards, more hopeful than anything, bounces way wide of Amelia's right hand post. Plenty of ambitious efforts from outside the box for the home side, but Amelia is having relatively little to do.
Cossu and Ekdal are creating everything from midfield for the home side, with Pinilla and Sau being surprisingly quiet in the opening 20 minutes. Cagliari's scoring record hasn't been great this season, and even against a weakened Milan back four, the hosts aren't creating much in the way of clear chances.
Milan continue to look to be the more dangerous of the two sides, with their offensive quality picking a few holes in Cagliari's back four. Murru has another shot at goal for the hosts, but the left-back can only hoof the ball miles over the crossbar. Seedorf can be pleased with his side's showing thus far.
HONDA! Great move from Milan! The Japanese international can only turn his eventual strike into the body of Avramov, after a strong challenge from De Jong allowed for the Rossoneri to break upfield. Balotelli slotted Honda in behind enemy lines, but the new Milan signing couldn't convert.
BALOTELLI! The Italy international forces Avramov into his first save, as he drives beyond Murru onto his right foot, and smashes his effort directly at the Serbian goalkeeper. That's a warning sign for Cagliari, that was far too easy for Balotelli to lose his man and have an effort at goal.
Quarter of an hour gone, and this game is yet to spark into life, or get into full flow. Both sides have managed to put moves together to reach the edge of the penalty area, but the final ball just isn't forthcoming. Quality lacking at the moment.
Good defending from Rami, as the French defender is forced to nod Pisano's dangerous delivery wide of his own post. The corner is taken short, and finds its way to Murru 25 yards out from goal, but the left-back fails to threaten Amelia's goal with a ballooning effort.
Half chance for Kaka! Balotelli is fed in behind the Cagliari defensive line, getting in behind Pisano, but the Italy international can't quite pick out his Brazilian teammate with a cut back from near the byline. Kaka stretches, but can't quite bring the ball under control, in a dangerous area.
BALOTELLI! A smart back heel from Honda on the right flank finds the overlapping De Sciglio, before the young defender whips in a first time cross. It takes a deflection off Murru, before Avramov is forced to palm the ball behind for a corner with Balotelli lurking.
Not a bad start for Seedorf's side, as Amelia is yet to be called into action due to anything created by the home side. Balotelli is yet to get involved in the game, but the away side are moving the ball upfield well, with the likes of Honda and Robinho able to give their attacks some pace and purpose.
ROBINHO! The Brazilian fires narrowly wide of the upright, after a quick transition upfield from Milan. Rossettini is robbed of the ball, before Robinho is given the ball on the edge of the box, but the former Santos man couldn't hit the target in a good area.
Good play from Milan! De Sciglio is given the ball on two occasions, weaving away from his man and playing a one-two with Honda to break upfield. The right-back slides the ball into the feet of Balotelli, but the former Man City striker's touch lets him down, and Cagliari clear.
COSSU! Milan were almost the masters of their own downfall, as a half-clearance from Amelia finds its way to Bonera, who is closed down and robbed of possession. Cossu is given the ball in the penalty area, but a heavy touch allows for Amelia to smother the ball and redeem himself.
And we are underway in the first half, in the far from full capacity Sant'Elia! Milan will be keen to get Seedorf his second win in charge of the club, to build some momentum for an improved second half of the Serie A season. Cagliari will fancy their chances against a defensively weakened visiting side, as the hosts have made themselves very hard to beat in this stadium.
No Victor Ibarbo for the home side today, as the Colombian is suspended, while Pinilla is only available due his ban from the Juventus match being cut in two. Abbiati and Poli are missing for Milan due to illness, adding to the small list of long-term absentees. The game in Stadio Sant'Elia will be played in front of merely 5000 fans due to construction work once again, but the hosts have managed to make this ground a fortress, despite the lack of atmosphere.
Milan substitutes: Muntari, Mexes, Pazzini, Birsa, Abate, Constant, Cristante, Coppola, Gabriel.
Milan starting line-up: Amelia; De Sciglio, Rami, Bonera, Emanuelson; Montolivo, De Jong; Robinho, Kaka, Honda; Balotelli.
Cagliari substitutes: Ibraimi, Eriksson, Cabrera, Perico, Adan, Del Fabro, Solinas.
Cagliari starting line-up: Avramov; Pisano, Rossettini, Astori, Murru; Conti, Ekdal, Dessena, Cossu; Sau, Pinilla.
TEAM NEWS: Balotelli starts on his own up front, with the expected trio of Robinho, Kaka and Honda in behind him. Bonera and Rami start in the centre of defence, with Amelia taking up his place in between the sticks. Cagliari's exciting duo of Sau and Pinilla start in attack, with the hosts perhaps hoping that their strikeforce can cause Milan's changed back four a few problems.
I'm Simon Harrison, and I will be keeping you up to date with proceedings, as Milan persevere with their attacking philosophy under Seedorf. The hosts are largely sticking with the side which held their own for large periods against Juventus, as Cagliari search for some valuable points, needed to drag them away from the relegation zone. Bologna are only four points away from the home side.
Hello and welcome to live Serie A coverage of Milan's visit to Cagliari, as Clarence Seedorf looks to put some results together in the early stages of his tenure. The Dutchman saw his new side lose to Udinese in his first match in charge, but today's hosts haven't picked up a win in their last five games, with their two most recent outings ending in defeat.
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