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Italy - Serie A
March 8, 2013
• Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genova
Referee: A. Damato
• Attendance: 36700
G. Pazzini 22'
M. Balotelli 60'
That's it from me, Keeghann Sinanan, it's been a pleasure.
Job done for Milan, who pick up their 11th win in 15 Serie A games, and go to within two points of second placed Napoli. Next up is Camp Nou, and a visit to Barcelona to defend their two goal first leg lead in the Champions League round of 16.
90' + 4'
And that is that! Genoa 0-2 Milan is our final score.
90' + 3'
Abbiati does well to tip way a dangerous cross with Borriello hanging in the air at the far post. The resulting corner comes to no immediate danger for Milan, but Genoa still hold possession.
90' + 2'
Immobile's shot from inside the box is blocked by a wall of white shirts. Story of the game for Genoa since they went two goals behind.
The whole stadium coming to the realization that the game is up. The atmosphere, though still energetic, has been taken down a notch. Meanwhile, four added minutes are signaled to end the game.
Yellow Card Luca Antonelli
A little bit of gamesmanship from Balotelli, who mils the clock by making the most of a challenge from Antonelli, who gets booked for his trouble.
This may well be an accurate preview of events to come at Camp Nou midweek, where Milan will look to protect a 2-0 lead against Lionel Messi and Co.
Abbiati fists clear another dangerous cross, and Niang mops up the rebound. Genoa running out of time fast.
Milan just about holding firm at the moment. A sea of blue and red shirts is prowling menacingly around the box, but the breakthrough has not come as yet.
Real credit must go to Flamini and Muntari in the visitors' midfield. The pair have run their socks off today, and have been especially important in the last 15 minutes in limiting the Genoa threat from the edge of the area.
Jankovic, fresh off the bench, beats Abate, but with numbers in the box, elects for the shot which goes wide. Borriello, unsurprisingly, has a bone to pick with him.
Jorquera tests Abbiati with a stinging drive from 25 yards out, that the keeper does well to tip wide! One way traffic as all guns are blazing towards that Rossoneri goal!
We're into the home stretch here, and Milan are hanging on for dear life. Can they finish the job? Send your opinions in through Twitter @keeghann!
Vargas with another fantastic delivery from the left side, which Abbiati does equally well to pluck out of the air under pressure from two Genoa players.
Balotelli delivers towards the far post, Niang hesitates slightly, and ends up sidefooting it into Frey instead of smashing it home. He was unmarked there too.
PORTANOVA! That could have made things interesting, as a towering leap to latch onto Vargas' ball in instead ends in a tame header towards Abbiati. Still, Genoa not out of this one yet!
Milan reshuffle as the game resumes - El Shaarawy is taken off for the more defensive Abate, while Genoa also take off the instigator Bovo for Jorquera.
Stephan El Shaarawy
I'm sorry, but Antonio Damato has had a terrible night at the office. Inconsistent calls, bookings and a failure to control the players throughout.
Yellow/Red Kevin Constant
RED FOR CONSTANT! The left back was the one who was fouled by Bovo, and his continuous petulant reaction earns him two quick bookings!
Yellow Card Cesare Bovo
Here we go! A bad tackle from Bovo, for which he is booked, sparks a 20-man brawl between both sets of players!
Milan, should they hold onto this advantage, can move to within two points of second placed Napoli.
Assist Cristian Zapata
Goal Mario Balotelli
BALOTELLI!!! Off the bench and onto the scoresheet! More terrible defending from Genoa gifts Milan their second. The corner is poorly cleared towards the edge of the area, and Zapata slips in Balotelli, who slots into the far side.
WHAT A SAVE FROM FREY! Flamini, out of nowhere, bursts through the backline and arrows towards the bottom corner. But Frey, somehow, gets the tiniest of fingertips to divert it around the post!
A beautifully constructed move by Genoa nearly carve Milan apart! Portanova and Borriello pull off a one-two that ends up at the feet of Bertolacci in the area. He turns, but Yepes crucially nicks the ball off his toes just before he pulls the trigger.
Thoughts on how the second half has progressed? Hit me up on Twitter @keeghann.
Yellow Card Mathieu Flamini
Flamini touches the ball around Frey and goes flying to the turf, despite the keeper making no contact at all with him. The referee rightfully books him for simulation - I think, given past events in the game, that the fans may have rioted if a penalty was called there.
Borriello with a snap-shot from the top of the box that is hit right at Abbiati. A foot or two either side and the keeper would have been struggling.
Balotelli takes the ball on the edge of the box, but with Muntari streaming forward, and El Shaarawy and Flamini also in support, he elects to go for the shot, which flies about a foot over the bar.
Vargas with a much tamer effort from range that has the sting taken out of it through a deflection, and it rolls through to Abbiati.
Another ALMIGHTY scare for Milan as an absolutely scintillating free-kick from Bovo smacks off the far post. He has no right to try to go for goal from there. Words really cannot describe how magnificent that free kick was, and how close it came to lifting the roof off this place.
A fairly low-key start to the second half, with El Shaarawy drilling a low effort straight into the arms of Frey.
We kick off the second half with the news that a Milan player has been withdrawn with an injury. But it's not Balotelli or Niang, its Mexes, with Yepes coming on in his stead. Milan looking in bad shape ahead of that big Barcelona game next week.
We're at the break, and it's been a fairly tepid contest so far. Giampaolo Pazzini gave Milan the lead on one leg before succumbing to injury, but the Rossoneri have been living dangerously, as Genoa have been denied no less than three decent penalty appeals. Second half in just a bit, so stay tuned.
45' + 2'
Antonelli has a cross closed down by De Sciglio, and that may just about be the last action of the half as Milan ping the ball around the back.
45' + 1'
Muntari with a good bit of play under pressure, combining with Mexes and Constant to avert the attention of Borriello and Bertolacci right outside the Rossoneri box.
Two minutes of added time to go...
Now Niang requires a moment of treatment on the sidelines for what looks like a cut on the head.
Muntari caught by Bertolacci's awful lunge, but no booking is forthcoming. The officiating has not been consistent at all today. Combine that with the wet pitch, and players do not know what to expect.
Thoughts on the game as we approach half-time? Reach me on Twitter @keeghann.
Milan avoid another penalty call against them after a cheeky shove by Niang sends Granqvist flying during the struggle to get on the end of a free kick. Genoa must be wondering what they have to do to get a break.
Genoa really applying pressure on Milan since going behind. The Rossoneri have barely had the ball out of their own half in the last 10 minutes or so.
I wasn't kidding about Antonio Damato - he has already shown three yellow cards, and could have easily given Balotelli his second booking for a careless barge into Cassani.
Now that should have been a penalty! Toszer heads a free kick towards the near post where the leaping Niang makes contact with his arm! A clearer shout than the earlier one, as this time, Niang's arms were clearly out! Milan living on borrowed time, as you get the feeling that the next appeal will go Genoa's way!
Yellow Card Kevin Constant
Constant shown a yellow card for tripping up Bovo on the run.
And now Robinho is warming up on the sidelines! AC Milan forwards are not lasting long!
It's been a forgettable cameo for old Mario so far. After his early yellow card, he gives the ball away carelessly there, and now grimaces, clutching that troublesome shin that's kept him out of commission for the past few days.
A big roar goes around the stadium as the referee slips in a puddle and is left on his backside in the mud.
Genoa appeal for a penalty, and I tell you what, they may have a case! The ball clearly strikes Zapata on his palm. but the referee decides against awarding the spot kick, given that the touch was accidental.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Balotelli booked straight away for a brainless push on Vargas. Didn't take him too long.
Pazzini's celebration may have depleted what little he had left, as Balotelli removes his bib in one fell swoop and prepares to come on.
Goal Giampaolo Pazzini
BEWARE THE WOUNDED ANIMAL!!! Pazzini strikes to give Milan the lead! The striker, on one leg, sprays to De Sciglio on the wing, whose cross is poorly cleared by Portanova. And Pazzini buries the rebound high into the net, peeling away in a suddenly free-moving celebration!
Pazzini hobbles back onto the pitch. He's moving very gingerly, and Balotelli is going through his paces on the touchline should the worst happen.
First chance of the game! Niang picks up a fortuitous deflection on the edge of the area and sends in a bullet towards goal, which Frey pushes away!
Pazzini, after a short delay, trudges off the pitch for treatment.
Yellow Card Daniele Portanova
Portanova cones in late on Pazzini, stepping on the striker's foot and sending him to the turf screaming. Yellow card for the Genoa man, and Pazzini will need a bit of treatment.
Borriello is left an agitated man once again, after a tussle with Zapata sees him go tumbling down outside the box. A strange sequence, since the contact originated inside the area, meaning that had the referee called a foul, it should have been a penalty.
Constant has probably been Milan's most involved player in attack. The left back gets a step on Cassani, and drills a low cross into the area that Frey spills, but Portanova instantly clears from danger.
Montolivo's free kick is too strong, and bends wide of the far post. Disappointing end to what was a good position for Milan to cause danger.
Milan win a free kick after Constant is clumsily fouled by Cassani. Montolivo is taking responsibility.
Genoa enjoying a decent spell of possession here. Bertolacci plays into Borriello, who holds the ball up excellently and sprays to Antonelli on the left, whose cross though, is catching practice for Abbiati.
Bertolacci with a really determined piece of play on the edge of the Milan box - twisting and turning to free himself from Constant before letting fly at goal...but it's a tame effort that Abbiati grabs easily.
Referee Antonio Damato is certainly a card-happy figure. He has shown 34 red cards in 105 Serie A games - including four this season. The wet pitch is sure to entice players into a few sliding challenges, so we may have some bookings in store.
Borriello is protesting furiously after he was called for handball when bringing down a long pass out of the back. A bit harsh that call, and the striker's reaction can be understood.
Decent play from Constant, who gets past Cassani on the left and swings a cross into the box, which Frey smothers in an almighty splash. The pitch looks like it just hosted a rave the night before, it's in terrible shape, and the rain only makes things worse.
Andrea Bertolacci tries to get on the end of an early Genoa move from the edge of the area, but Zapaga successfully puts him off the shot.
And we're off! Any comments throughout the game? Reach me on Twitter @keeghann.
It's absolutely pouring here at the Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris as the teams go through the pre-match formalities. Let's hope that the weather will not affect play. Kick off is imminent...
With 11 games remaining, the in-form Rossoneri are leading a six-team scrap for third place, though they have also reduced the gap on second placed Napoli to only five points. Genoa meanwhile are only one place above the relegation zone in 17th place, but are five points clear of Siena, the team below them.
The rest of the Rossoneri lineup is about what you would expect from Allegri. In-form midfield duo Riccardo Moltolivo and Sulley Ali Muntari will man the centre of the park, while Giampaolo Pazzini, fresh off his brace against Lazio last weekend, will lead the line. The forward has attracted a lot of criticism for his limited play (and in truth, some of it is deserved), but he still has a decent record of 12 league goals in 21 appearances - with 9 of those as a substitute.
Mr. Balotelli has not fully recovered in time after missing eight days of training with a shin complaint, so he starts tonight's game from the bench. In his place, M'Baye Niang is given a start in the front line. Big game this for the youngster.
AC Milan (4-3-3): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Mexes, Zapata, Constant; Flamini, Montolivo, Muntari; Niang, Pazzini, El Shaarawy
Genoa (3-5-2): Frey; Granqvist, Portanova, Moretti; Cassani, Bovo, Tozser, Vargas, Antonelli; Bertolacci; Borriello
First, our teams...
Greetings one and all, and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of the Serie A clash between Genoa and AC Milan. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, bringing you the play by play.
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