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May 2, 2012
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: M. Guida
• Attendance: 51000
That's my cue for an exit, from me, Keeghann Sinanan, it's been a pleasure. Thanks to all who reached out on Twitter, your input was appreciated as always.
In the end, a deserved win for Milan as Atalanta were not clinical enough to take advantage of the opportunities that they had. Milan start and finish the game with a bang, and claim a deserved three points. What's more, thanks to Juve's draw at home against Lecce, the gap at the top has been reduced to a solitary point with two games remaining.
90' + 4'
And that is that!
90' + 3'
Assist Zlatan Ibrahimovic
90' + 3'
GOOOOOOOOOOOOALLL!!! Robinho seals it at the death! A free kick from Ibrahimovic from all of 30 yards is not gathered cleanly by Consigli. Robinho was the only player to react, and nods the rebound just past the despairing arms of the Atalanta keeper! Cue a sweaty close up celebration with the cameras.
90' + 2'
It's all over in Turin, 1-1 the final score between Juve and Lecce.
90' + 1'
Four minutes of injury time signaled as Sujay Nadkarni has a response for Shabab Ahmed - "C'mon Milan! Concede dammit! 1 slip up and the title is virtually ours :P"
So close for Robinho!!! He wriggles free down the left and bears down on goal, but his shot is deflected within inches of the goal! Milan recycle possession instantly, and Robinho is put through at the same spot once again, but is called for offside just as he squares to Ibrahimovic for a tap in.
Nocerino sends a shot from long range wide as Milan look to finish strong. The news of the Lecce equalizer shook the stadium and was beamed onto the big screen, there's no way that the players on the field don't know about it.
The San Siro has just exploded because, guess what, Lecce have drawn level in the 85th minute!!! Bertolacci has struck the leveler, and his name appears on the big screen in the stadium. He'll surely be due a pint should he walk into a Milan pub this evening, provided its the red half of course!
Ibra, Ibra, Ibra, y u no score? The gigantic Swede plucks a pass out of the air with his chest expertly, turns, and sprints clear towards goal. The idea was right, a sidefoot into the corner, but the finish was woeful and sent way off target!
IBRAHIMOVIC!!! That was the chance to put this game to bed! A swift Milan attack sees the ball spread wide to Ibra on the corner of the box. He takes one touch inside and lets fly with a low shot that Consigli manages to get hands to. The rebound, meanwhile, flies just over the head of the waiting Flamini!
An Atalanta free kick is headed clear by the Milan defence. Moralez plays it back quickly into the mixer towards Denis, whose header is weak and easily smothered by Abbiati.
Gennaro Ivan Gattuso
Both teams with a change to make. Atalanta bring on Carrozza for Tiribocchi, who has been largely a pedestrian figure in this game. Meanwhile, the exhausted Ambrosini makes way for Gattuso.
Nothing much to speak of in terms of action on the field in the last two minutes. Atalanta are holding onto the ball at the back, frustrating Milan. Probably not the brightest idea when you are trailing, but then again, I'm not the one being paid to make those decisions.
Here comes Flamini, replacing Boateng. The Ghanaian started the game on fire, assisting the opening goal, but maybe ran out of steam a little as the second half has worn on. Flamini will further shore things up in the centre.
Here's one from Milan fan Shabab Ahmed, who has clearly got one eye on the events at the Juventus Arena - "Come on juve!!!! concede dammit!!!!1 slip from them and we are just 1 point behind!!!!"
Flamini is imminent after stripping off on the sidelines...
Atalanta are slowly in the ascendancy as the game enters the closing stages. One or two of the Milan players look a bit legged out there. Moralez, on only recently as a sub, sends a 20-yarder into orbit.
Quick Twitter plug - @keeghann, get your comments in!
And that's the end of Cassano's outing as he is replaced by Robinho. A decent enough appearance for him, a bit hit or miss, and not quite up to the standard of his last few games in a Milan shirt.
Cassano simply cannot get the ball under control after chasing down a Nocerino pass on the counter. Lucchini gets across to cover well and clear the danger.
Juve are still 1-0 up against Lecce in their Serie A clash by the way, and just came within inches of extending their lead through a Quagliarella volley.
After a largely ineffective time trying to get the better of De Sciglio this evening, Bonaventura's time on the pitch is over. On comes Moralez in his stead.
That was the cue for De Sciglio to make a horrible mistake, but instead, he stands tall defending an Atalanta break. Bonaventura is isolated against the youngster, but sees his cross intercepted well to halt a dangerous situation in its tracks!
Bonaventura tries, and fails, to get some change out of De Sciglio on the flanks with little support. Don't sleep on De Sciglio by the way, because the 19-year-old fullback has been putting in a quietly effective game so far.
Boateng receives the ball on the left hand side. He decides against going to the byline, and instead makes his way back to the top before clipping in a reverse ball that goes about a foot over the head of the onrushing Ibrahimovic.
Milan, for the second time tonight, have started the half on the front foot. They are looking to stretch Atalanta by exploiting the flanks, which in turn is leaving space centrally for Ibra and Cassano to exploit.
That is Ferri's last contribution of the game, as he is replaced by Schelotto. Must be an injury afoot, because he has been nothing but solid at the back.
CHANCE! The ball comes in from the left byline towards Ibrahimovic. He is marked by two defenders and just misses getting a touch on the ball, but it falls to Cassano on the edge of the six yard area. He brings it under control, but Ferri stands tall at the near post to block his shot!
Great interplay between Cassano and Ibrahimovic. The bosom buddies embark on a 2-on-4 break, with Ibra feeding Cassano wide, before the Italian returns the favour with a low cross at the near post. Ibra goes to meet it, but is under pressure, and pokes his shot wide.
Maxi Lopez and Mathieu Flamini are spotted going through their paces on the sidelines. Allegri may look to change things a tad in midfield in a bid to further take control of the game.
Nocerino spots Boateng out on the left, and feeds the Ghanaian, who begins to carve his way inwards. He tries to serve Ibrahimovic at the far post, but the ball is too close to the goal and instead rolls out for a goal kick.
Keep those comments coming in on Twitter @keeghann, I've enjoyed them so far!
And we're off once more!
After a very shaky start, Atalanta have come back to stake a claim in this game. They have had a few good openings for an equaliser, but as it stands, Muntari's early goal is the difference between the two sides. Over at the Juventus arena, Marchisio and Co. are also a goal to the good against Lecce at the break. See you in a bit for the second half!
Cazzola sends a 25-yarder off target as the referee blows for the half right on 45 minutes.
Great defending from Atalanta. Muntari slips in Ibrahimovic just inside the box. The big Swede goes left, then right and manages to make space for a shot. As he lets it rip though, Stendardo makes a fantastic last-ditch block with his backside.
Tiribocchi finds himself with possession on the right, and squares to Bonaventura just on the edge of the area. He lets fly, but digs it into the turf a bit and puts it wide.
Milan have a corner on the right that is delivered to the near post by Cassano. Ibrahimovic rushes to meet it, and tries one of his crazy taekwando moves to get a flick on it. This time, it fails and Consigli claims the ball.
Raimondi has space on the right and pumps the ball into the box with more than a few white shirts available for the delivery. Abbiati strides out though, and makes a confident catch.
Now it's Atalanta's turn to set up shop around Milan's penalty area. They patiently probe for an opening, and see one briefly as Cigarini picks out Bonaventura on the turn. However, as he is about to pull the trigger, Nesta, not for the first time tonight, throws himself in the way of the shot.
Milan are camped in the Atalanta half at the moment. Cassano attempts a shot which is blocked, then collects the rebound and almost threads a pass through to Ibrahimovic, but Lucchini makes a great interception!
Raimondi is deemed fit to resume and is back on his feet.
The game is stopped as Raimondi is down on the deck, having caught a ball from Cassano full on.
Another chance for Atalanta! A slick one touch passing move opens Milan up and ends with the ball at the feet of Denis. He gets a step on Nesta, but drags his shot just wide of the goal! That would have been a tight squeeze for Abbiati!
Remember, all opinions, questions and comments are welcomed on Twitter @keeghann, so don't hesitate to get involved!
We have seen a lull in the pace of the game as both sides seem to have gotten the measure of each other at the moment. Milan deserve to be ahead...barely. Credit must go to Atalanta for not rolling over when Milan scored, and hitting back with some purposeful attacking play of their own.
Good play by Atlanta to spread the ball wide and stretch Milan. Raimondi picks out Cigarini's run towards the right byline, but Nesta does superbly, getting across well to slide-tackle the Atalanta midfielder and rob him of the ball in a dangerous area.
Milan have a glimpse at goal for one split second! Cassano initially seems to do well to get on the end of Boateng's centre, but Ferri is back to marshal him from danger so Consigli can collect. There's a brief mix up between defender and goalkeeper which sees the ball bobble free, but Consigli finally gets his hands on it before Cassano!
Cigarini looks for Tiribocchi from a deep throw in, but Abbiati is able to intercept the danger without too much fuss.
Atalanta are doing now what Milan did in the opening exchanges - keeping the opposition penned back in their own half. Errors are starting to creep into the Rossoneri's game now, as the visitors are in the ascendancy.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR ATALANTA! Cigarini's cross is met by Denis just ahead of Nesta, forcing Abbiati to push wide! Schelotto attacks the rebound, but Nesta recovers enough to sweep clear!
Atalanta are starting to come out of their shell since the opener. Their movement is exposing a bit of uncertainty in Milan's defence, and there are gaps to exploit. This game is far from over, folks.
A low cross from the left by Peluso looks to have caused danger for just one second, but Ambrosini is back helping out and manages to clear the ball.
Over at the Juventus Arena, Claudio Marchisio has also put the Bianconeri into the lead against Lecce!
Assist Kevin-Prince Boateng
Goal Sulley Muntari
MILAN STRIKE FIRST!!! It has been coming! Ibrahimovic sets things in motion, charging through the middle before spreading wide to Boateng. He spots the run of Muntari in the box, and crosses towards him. The Atalanta defence all push forward trying to play the offside trap, but it fails horribly and Muntari is left with an easy finish!
Wow. It's a hat-trick of early opening for Boateng. He receives the ball under pressure inside the box, and twists left and right to manufacture an inch of space. He then blasts at goal, but the shot is dead centre and saved by Consigli's legs!
It's been all Milan so far. Atalanta have just left their half for the first time, and their foray lasts all of six seconds. De Sciglio cuts out the ball on the right and sends Milan back on the attack.
BOATENG AGAIN! What a chance! The Ghanaian once again has been left in space at the top of the box. This time, his shot is on target, and is spilled by Consigli. Ibrahimovic attacks the rebound, but the angle and distance is always against him and he fires into the side netting!
Now that was mightily close!!! First chance of the match falls Milan's way. Boateng takes aim from 20 yards out, and flashes a low drive just inches wide of the far post!
Milan are dictating play in the opening exchanges. The San Siro is in full voice, they clearly understand the ramifications of this contest.
@keeghann - get those comments in!
And we're off!!
The teams are making their way onto the pitch and we're minutes away from kickoff...
If Milan lose and Juve win today, then Antonio Conte's men will claim the title. Remember, it's head-to-head that acts as the tiebreaker in Serie A, and Juve have recorded a 2-0 win and a 1-1 draw against the Rossoneri in both league games this season.
With only two games to go after this set of fixtures and a three point deficit to Juventus, Milan simply cannot afford anything less than maximum points from this fixture. We'll also be keeping an eye on the Juventus Arena for the Bianconeri's clash with Lecce.
Atalanta, meanwhile, have been handed a double boost with the return of defender Guglielmo Stendardo and midfielder Luca Cigarini from suspension. Simone Tiribocchi starts alongside German Denis up front, while Ezequiel Schelotto has been demoted to the bench.
Otherwise, Allegri makes six changes to the XI that defeated Siena on the weekend, with the entire back four among those replaced. The game has come too son for Thiago Silva and Clarence Seedorf, but they are both expected to be available to face Inter in the derby this weekend.
Antonio Cassano starts for Milan, despite his ongoing recovery from a heart problem. It's a risk worth taking, in my book, because Cassano has been nothing short of superb in his last two games for the Rossoneri.
Send all your comments, thoughts and wisecracks over to @keeghann, and I'll do my best to keep the party going on Twitter throughout the match!
Subs: Frezzolini, Manfredini, Bellini, Schelotto, Carrozza, Moralez, Gabbiadini.
Atalanta (4-4-2): Consigli; Ferri, Stendardo, Lucchini, Peluso; Raimondi, Cigarini, Cazzola, Bonaventura; Denis, Tiribocchi.
Subs: Amelia, Yepes, Mesbah, Gattuso, Aquilani, Robinho, Maxi Lopez.
AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Nesta, Mexes, Antonini; Nocerino, Ambrosini, Muntari; Boateng; Ibrahimovic, Cassano.
First, the teams...
Greetings, and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of the Serie A clash between AC Milan and Atalanta! I'm Keeghann Sinanan, bringing you the play-by-play.
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