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Italy - Serie A
December 7, 2013
• Stadio Armando Picchi, Livorno
Referee: M. Guida
• Attendance: 15706
L. Siligardi 26'
M. Balotelli 7', 83'
That's all that we have time for from Stadio Armando Picchi, as an amazing Balotelli's free-kick salvaged a point for Milan in a 2-2 away draw with plucky Livorno. I've been Simon Harrison, and I hope to see you again next time.
The away side will be pleased to see Balotelli getting back into his stride, but more positives will be present for Nicola. Livorno competed throughout, with the likes of Siligardi, Duncan and Paulinho having excellent games. A point against in-form opposition isn't the worst outcome for the Tuscans.
Milan escape with a point, despite only really threatening for fleeting periods of the game. Hard work and resilience from Livorno looked to be impeding Allegri's men from getting a share of the spoils, but a moment of sheer brilliance dragging the visitors back onto level terms in the last ten minutes.
FULL TIME! Mario saves Milan's blushes with a fantastic late free-kick, denying Livorno the three points in what was a good performance from the hosts. Goals from Paulinho and Siligardi weren't enough to deny Balotelli from having the most profound effect on this evening's Serie A action!
90' + 4'
90' + 3'
Niang goes down in the penalty area after tussling with Lambrughi, and the substitute did appear to have hold of the Frenchman's shirt! A possible lucky escape for the home side in the dying embers of the game. What a finish to proceedings.
90' + 2'
90' + 1'
Bardi punches clear! El Shaarawy's ball from the left hand side looks to extend the Livorno's goalkeeper, who opts for safety first, preventing Balotelli from reaching the ball with a firm fist! Plenty of late chances for both sides.
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
Well, this game could have been decided by two outrageously good strikes from Balotelli. Greco sees a shot charged down by Mexes, and it appears that the hosts aren't done yet! Gabriel is then able to collect another deflected long-range drive. All action finish!
WHAT A STRIKE! BALOTELLI THUMPS THE BALL OFF THE CROSSBAR! He unleashes yet another ferocious strike, cannoning the ball off the underside of the bar, before the ball kindly bounced outwards for Bardi, rather than into the net!
Only a few minutes remaining, and it's all Milan. De Sciglio has really made a difference down the right hand side, with El Shaarawy starting to get involved more often. Desperate defending from Livorno, they're being overrun regularly now.
Half chance for Milan! El Shaarawy loops a cross into the penalty area, and for a moment it threatens to land on the head of Balotelli. Instead, Bardi is able to claim. The goalkeeper takes his time with his distribution, Livorno aren't keen to throw away a share of the spoils.
Five minutes left on the clock, and Balotelli might have just saved Allegri! What a brilliant free-kick from Balotelli, he's come to the Rossoneri's rescue yet again, unleashing a hellish drive into the top right hand corner. Bardi didn't even move!
Goal Mario Balotelli
GOOOOOOAL! WHAT A HIT FROM BALOTELLI! It's a 30-yard free-kick, and Balotelli has absolutely smashed it into the top corner, giving Bardi no chance at all! What a strike! Game on!
Well cut out by Mexes! A lofted ball from Paulinho looks for Luci arriving at the back post, but the Frenchman stepped out of defence well to control the ball on his chest and find Balotelli. He's been solid at the heart of the Milan defence this evening.
Duncan finds Paulinho on the edge of the penalty box, but Niang works back well to clear the ball into touch. Livorno appear reluctant to shoot from distance and waste attacks now, they're much happier to slow things down, and I wouldn't surprised to see them take the ball into the corner quite soon too.
Just over ten minutes left to play, and Livorno appear happy to allow Milan to pile forward in an attempt to find the equaliser. Greco being thrown into the midfield fray shows Nicola's intention to shore things up, and it seems that the hosts are looking to close this game out.
Yellow Card Ibrahima Mbaye
DE JONG! The Dutchman rose excellently, but got too far under the lobbed Kaka free-kick delivery! He can only divert the ball over the crossbar, after a great leap from the former Man City midfielder.
Mattia De Sciglio
Nicola opts to throw on another midfield body, in the shape of Greco, though the Italian has been occasionally deployed as a trequartista. Milan pick up a foul on the edge of Livorno's penalty area now, as Mbaye trips Niang.
SILIGARDI! The goalscorer can only fire his effort straight at Gabriel, what a waste! The Italian broke with pace, finding a pocket of space on the edge of the penalty area, but hammered the ball directly at the Milan keeper.
Around twenty minutes left to play, and currently the game looks beyond Allegri's side. Kaka and Balotelli are the only bright sparks for the travelling Rossoneri, with Livorno easily able to cope with the rest of Milan's offensive options. The hosts are remaining resilient.
NIANG! What a chance for the substitute! A good back post cross from Kaka finds the boot of the Frenchman, but he can't hit the target! That looked destined to be a goal after a top delivery from the Brazilian midfielder, but Niang just couldn't keep his composure.
Good header from Mexes! A driven delivery from the right hand side from Luci is nodded away by the France international, after intelligent play from Paulinho to open up some space on the flank. Livorno's right flank has been much more potent since El Shaarawy has been introduced.
Yellow Card Paulinho
Livorno win a free-kick after Zapata brings down Paulinho, but the free-kick is cleared by De Jong! The second ball is won by the home side, but the looped delivery into the area is claimed by Gabriel. As Milan's second-choice goalkeeper tries to clear the ball upfield, Paulinho deliberately gets in the way, earning the Brazilian a booking.
Niang and Mbaye both go down after clashing heads, and although Niang seemed to jump into the Milan substitute, the Frenchman is worse off from the clash. The game continues, and it seems that both players will quickly return to the fray.
Bardi is able to claim another Milan effort with ease, as Niang's flick-on from Montolivo's free-kick delivery loops harmlessly towards the Livorno goalkeeper. Aside from Balotelli's effort which was excellently saved, Bardi really hasn't had a great deal to do in this game.
Livorno continue to break cohesively and smoothly, with Milan now being forced to chase the game and press their opponents far more regularly. With the Rossoneri forced into pressing, there is every chance that more spaces will open up in behind for Paulinho and Siligardi.
Half an hour remaining, and the visitors really do have it all to do. El Shaarawy might have picked up an injury here, and things are really going from bad to worse for Milan. Livorno have deserved their lead however, it must be said, as their intensity finally takes its toll on the opposition.
Well, the hosts have something to defend now! Allegri is immediately forced into a reactionary change, throwing on a pacey attacker in place of the ineffectual Nocerino. Milan need a goal quickly, otherwise they could see themselves dropping points away from home yet again.
Assist Luca Siligardi
GOOOOOAL! PAULINHO SMASHES LIVORNO INTO THE LEAD! That's his first real chance, and he's taken it excellently! He fires past Gabriel at the near post, after the Brazilian found himself one-on-one with the Milan shot-stopper! Good finish. Livorno lead 2-1!
Another good challenge from Emanuelson, as the versatile utility man stuck with Schiattarella to block his eventual cross. Livorno are still on top, with Balotelli's great opportunity to regain the lead seemingly unable to rally Allegri's troops.
Moments earlier, Duncan had blazed narrowly wide from range, before Balotelli's excellent chance was saved brilliantly by the hosts' keeper. Bardi has kept his side in the hunt for the three points, he did well to beat the Italy international's strike over the bar from close range.
WHAT A SAVE! Bardi is at his best to deny Balotelli, after the Milan striker raced through on goal after creating an opportunity for himself! That's top, top stuff from the Livorno goalkeeper, and that could spark the visitors into life!
Montolivo goes down after a shove by Ceccherini, but it looked fairly exaggerated by the Italian midfielder. The eventual Emerson free-kick is blocked by Emanuelson, before Duncan can't fire the rebound back into the penalty area. Wasted opportunity.
Yellow Card Stephan El Shaarawy
Livorno are pressing well, forcing Milan into misplaced passes and are getting the home crowd's support once again. Nicola's men are ruffling a few feathers, and now El Shaarawy has given away a free-kick for bringing down Schiattarella on the edge of the 18-yard box.
Good defensive work from Emanuelson yet again. The Netherlands international has tracked back responsibly when required, and nothing has managed to penetrate Milan's left hand side thus far. Certainly staking a claim to retain his spot in the team.
Mexes does well to keep an eye on Siligardi, as the Frenchman moves across the defensive line intelligently to cut out a through ball intended for the goalscorer. Milan haven't started the second half too well, but one moment of individual brilliance could change that.
KAKA! The Brazilian almost threads Balotelli through on goal, but Emerson just about managed to cut out the intended pass. El Shaarawy picks up the pieces, but his attempted cross is deflected into the arms of the grateful Bardi.
We are back underway for the second half, and the hosts will be hoping to kick on from a positive first 45 minutes, and take some points from recently in-form Milan. Allegri needs his side to change the momentum of this game as quickly as possible, as the visitors ended the half significantly on the back foot.
Kaka has looked lively for the visitors, but much of the good work in the first half has come from Duncan, Siligardi and Paulinho for the Serie A strugglers. Plenty for Allegri's side to do in the first half to turn this around, with the replacement of Birsa failing to really change the game.
HALF TIME! The referee puts an end to a first half which ended with the hosts piling on the pressure. Milan took an early lead through Balotelli's flicked finish, before Siligardi did excellently to fire beyond Gabriel to equalise. The Rossoneri goalkeeper has had much more to do, with the hosts really forcing the issue in the final ten minutes.
45' + 1'
PAULINHO! The Brazilian does well to wriggle away from Poli, before racing to the byline to cut a cross back towards Siligardi. Zapata steps in well to turn the ball behind for a corner, but the eventual set piece delivery is headed clear by Mexes.
Great covering from Emanuelson! The Dutchman does excellently to recover, outpacing Siligardi brilliantly to clear up the dying embers of a Livorno counter-attack. The goalscorer looked to be through on goal, before Emanuelson raced back to make the interception.
DUNCAN! It's embarrassingly wide from the midfielder, as he fails to even test Gabriel with a long-range effort. Poor from Livorno's arguably most lively player in the first half, but at least he's offering plenty going forward.
Ceccherini stoops low to head away a Poli cross, and Livorno continue to prevent too much filtering through to Balotelli. Whenever he's given the ball, the Milan dangerman certainly looks capable of carving open the hosts' defence, but Allegri's side aren't providing him with a sufficient supply line thus far.
El Shaarawy has already been more involved than Birsa, and he's only been on the field for a few minutes! The pacey youngster will presumably force Duncan to take more defensive responsibility, which will be useful for the away side. The Livorno left-sided midfielder was starting to cause Poli some issues.
OFFSIDE! Siligardi does brilliantly to ghost around the physical challenge of De Jong, before sliding a through ball in between Poli and Zapata, in search of Paulinho. The Brazilian slips, before regaining his footing, but the linesman has his flag raised.
Stephan El Shaarawy
DUNCAN! The midfielder isn't picked up, and fires well wide of the target with what could have feasibly been an attempted cross. Birsa appears unable to continue after picking up an early knock, with El Shaarawy replacing the Slovenian.
Just under ten minutes left of the first half, and Livorno are looking that little bit more threatening at the moment. Milan spring into life when Kaka is given possession, but the hosts are trying to force the issue, winning a few set pieces as a result.
Heart in mouth moment for Milan! Mexes isn't given any instruction by his goalkeeper, and is forced to hoof a Duncan cross away from the six yard box, despite being under no pressure. The Frenchman complains to his keeper, telling him that he needs to be told what to do in such a situation.
The referee warns Balotelli to watch his conduct, as the controversial Milan hitman continues to argue with Emerson. The Italian striker clearly still feels aggrieved about being brought down by the Ceccherini earlier on.
DUNCAN! Great clearance by Poli! The Milan right-back nods the ball away from danger at the back post, as a driven cross from Duncan looks to spiral to an unmarked teammate at the back post. Livorno are finding a few gaps in this somewhat make-shift Milan defence.
Balotelli goes down under the attentions of Emerson and Ceccherini, and the Italy international claims that he was brought down unlawfully on the edge of the penalty area. The home crowd show Balotelli exactly what they think of him, booing and jeering whenever the former Man City striker touches the ball.
Yellow Card Emerson
An evenly contested first half an hour, with early pressure from Milan now a distant memory. Despite their poor recent form, Livorno are looking fairly confident, with Siligardi in particular looking trigger-happy in attack. This could be a testing night for young goalkeeper Gabriel.
On the break, Livorno look dangerous, with their midfield and offensive pace causing Milan a few problems. Milan need to calm things down a little, to take some momentum away from their opponents, every counter-attack is looking threatening for the Tuscans.
Livorno's recent dominance has bore fruit, with the athleticism of the likes of Duncan and Mbaye turning the midfield battle in the hosts' favour. A great finish from Siligardi, and that's only his second goal of the Serie A season!
Assist Pasquale Schiattarella
Goal Luca Siligardi
GOOOOOOAL! SILIGARDI FINDS THE BOTTOM CORNER TO EQUALISE! Unstoppable strike from the Italian, who leaves Gabriel with no chance, nestling a good finish into the bottom left corner. It skidded over the arm of Gabriel on it's way into the back of the net!
Gabriel makes another save, this time to deny Siligardi! The Italian forward curls an effort in search of Gabriel's top corner, but the Milan shot-stopper is able to claim the swirling shot with ease. Encouraging signs for the hosts.
EMERSON! The Livorno midfielder tries his luck with a long-range free-kick, but Gabriel is more than equal to it! The Brazilian goalkeeper dives full stretch to his left, and even manages to hold onto the powerful strike! Good goalkeeping.
KAKA! The Brazilian sees an effort deflected wide from the back post, as Milan continue to look the more likely to find this game's second goal. He claims that his strike took a deflection, but the referee awards a goal kick.
Yellow Card Andrea Coda
Two yellow cards for the home side within the opening twenty minutes certainly isn't ideal. With the tricky likes of Birsa, Kaka and Balotelli in Milan's offensive line, Nicola may be forced to make some unwanted substitutions to avoid going down to ten men early on.
BARDI! Balotelli is almost able to rob the hosts' goalkeeper of possession, after a rather risky backpass! Balotelli's strength, pace and power are causing Livorno's back three all kinds of problems.
Birsa is brought down in midfield by a slightly late challenge, but the Slovenian will be fine to continue, despite limping around a little. Milan continue to look more dangerous while going forward, but Livorno are growing into the game after conceding early.
PAULINHO! What a chance for the Brazilian! De Jong comes out second-best in a midfield duel, allowing for the striker to drive at the Milan defence and fire a low drive narrowly wide of Gabriel's far post! Not the best effort from Paulinho.
Livorno are struggling to test the physical defensive pairing of Mexes and Zapata, with Paulinho often missing out due to the strength of the Milan duo. The hosts have strung together some slick passages of play, but Gabriel remains unchallenged.
Good clearance from Montolivo! The central midfielder tracks back well to clear Siligardi's front post cross away from danger. The Livorno forward did well to ghost around Emanuelson, but Montolivo was equal to his eventual off-balance cross.
CECCHERINI! The central defender can't keep his header down, after a well-rehearsed set piece managed to find the Livorno man some space. He was bearing down on goal unchallenged, but couldn't divert the cross towards goal.
The first ten minutes haven't gone according to plan for Livorno, with the struggling hosts surrendering the breakthrough goal. Gabriel hasn't had to do a great deal for the visitors thus far, and the likes of Siligardi and Paulinho need to change that quickly.
Yellow Card Marco Biagianti
Great work from Kaka to carve open Livorno to feed Balotelli the assist. Schatterella was well beaten by the former Real Madrid man, and he's been integral to all things going forward for Rossoneri thus far.
Goal Mario Balotelli
GOOOOOAL! BALOTELLI BUNDLES HOME TO MAKE IT 1-0! The Italy international exchanged passes with Kaka, before bundling home the Brazilian's eventual cross at the back post! The home crowd fall silent! A scrappy backheel finish, but Milan won't care.
Kaka is caught late by Luci, who has only just returned from suspension, and the referee warns the Livorno captain that another foul like that will land him in the book. A end-to-end start in this game thus far, both sides have had chances!
A good atmosphere inside Stadiuo Armando Picchi, as the home fans are presumably optimistic about their chances of picking up some points today. Milan's first away win of the season only came last weekend, so there is reason for positivity from the Livorno players and faithful alike.
KAKA! Balotelli does excellently to wriggle away from two challenges, before the Italian finds his teammate on the left hand side. Kaka cuts inside onto his right foot, but can't curl the ball into the far corner, instead his effort is blocked!
Good block by Poli! A half volley is rocketed towards Milan's goal, but the Italian stands tall to make an important defensive contribution. Livorno have taken some confidence from their early offensive success, and have their tails up.
Milan line up in white, with the hosts in their burgundy home strip. The visitors have had the better of possession in the first minute, but Gabriel has a shaky first involvement, clearing the ball out for a throw in when the Brazilian seemed to be able to pick up the through ball.
We are underway in the first half! Allegri will be targetting a win today, with the likes of Kaka and Balotelli presumably the ones required to fire Milan into action. Livorno won't give up without a fight, however, as they need points to pull away from the Serie A relegation zone.
Ten minutes until kick-off, and Maximiliano Allegri will be hoping to continue his side's recently strong form. Rossoneri started the season in rather bad shape, but have recently picked up some momentum, while Livorno have lost their last three games consecutively. Based on the form book, it's tough to look past Milan for a victory here this afternoon.
Milan substitutes: Abbiati, Coppola, Bonera, De Sciglio, Zaccardo, Cristante, Saponara, El Shaarawy, Matri, Niang.
Milan starting line-up: Gabriel; Poli, Zapata, Mexes, Emanuelson; Montolivo, De Jong, Nocerino; Birsa, Kaka; Balotelli.
Livorno substitutes: Anania, Rinaudo, Valentini, Gemiti, Decarli, Lambrughi, Benassi, Borja, Mosquera, Greco, Emeghara, Belingheri.
Livorno starting line-up: Bardi; Coda, Emerson, Ceccherini; Schiattarella, Biagianti, Luci, Duncan, Mbaye; Siligardi; Paulinho.
TEAM NEWS: 21-year-old goalkeeper Gabriel starts for the visitors in place of Abbiati, with three Inter loanees starting for the newly promoted side. Mbaye, Duncan and Bardi will feature, while Milan will kick things off with Birsa and Kaka behind Balotelli.
I'm Simon Harrison, and I will be keeping you fully informed with all of the action from Stadio Armando Picchi, as Milan look to press on from their first away Serie A win of the season against Catania last weekend. A solid Champions League performance against Celtic should have further lifted the away side's spirits, and struggling Livorno certainly have it all to do this afternoon.
Hello and welcome to today's first instalment of Serie A action, as a stuttering Livorno side look to gain a favourable result from a Milan outfit who are unbeaten in their last five games. The visitors need three points to cling onto hope of finishing in the European places, while the hosts require the same outcome to elevate themselves out of the relegation mire.
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