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Italy - Serie A
April 22, 2012
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: A. De Marco
• Attendance: 52000
For now, it's cheerio from me. Thanks for all your contributions; and don't be too despondent Milan fans. It's not over yet.
Confirmation, then, that Milan move level on points with Juventus at the top of Serie A, but the Bianconeri can go three points clear with a win over Roma this evening. Make sure you join us on Goal.com to see how that one plays out.
It looked for all the world like Milan were going to snatch it in stoppage time there, but Bologna rode their luck and escaped with a precious point. You can't say it flatters Pioli's side, who outplayed Milan in the first half, and looked comfortable for large periods of the second. If you only wake up for the final 15 minutes of a match, you can't expect to win it.
Robinho forces a corner, but that's it! The final whistle is blown, and for the second time this season, Bologna have held Milan to a draw. Advantage, Juve.
90' + 3'
Close! A super cross from Emanuelson is met by a flying Robinho. The Brazilian's diving header is so close half of the crowd thought it was in.
90' + 2'
There are two minutes remaining for Milan to grab an amazing winner.
90' + 1'
And that's almost a winner! Ibrahimovic finds Nocerino on the edge of the box, and his shot skids just wide of the post. It's breathless stuff all of a sudden.
Assist Urby Emanuelson
Goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic
GOOOALL MILAN! He's done it! Emanuelson throws in a hopeful ball, and this time, Mudingayi doesn't deal with it. Behind him comes Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who side foot's the ball home. Massive moment.
We have minutes remaining. Is the Rossoneri's title bid about to go up in smoke?
Aagh! What an effort. You can't keep a good player down, and Ibrahimovic almost equalises with a stunning overhead kick. The ball is inches wide of the top corner. He held off Cherubin superbly in the build up to that effort, too. That's what happens when you stay on your feet.
Yellow Card Saphir Taider
Ibrahimovic goes down again, and again, it's nowhere near a penalty. Nicolo Cherubin has dealt superbly with the Milan forward today, and thankfully, referee De Marco has been having none of the Swede's nonsense either.
That looked to be a stamp by Muntari on Taider, who came down very hard on the Frenchman's leg. For some reason, Taider is booked for his trouble. Why, I do not know.
Yellow/Red Daniele Bonera
A lose header from Portanova is a little short, and Ibrahimovic looks to be in, but Gyorgy Garics is in like a shot to hack the ball away. Last ditch defending from Bologna. Will they eventually crack?
RED CARD! Daniele Bonera brings down Acquafresca, who had turned the Milan centre-back easily, and a second booking is the only reasonable outcome. Milan now have to find a way back into this game with only ten men.
Milan are pressing hard, but still seem to be resorting to long shots or hopeful crosses. The Bologna defence is very wise to this now, and is acquitting itself superbly. They are on the verge of a famous win. Ten minutes to go.
Sulley Muntari lets fly from distance.... and misses the target by a mile. Howls of frustration from the home support.
I'm not sure what he's doing there, but Alessandro Nesta floats over a cross from the left wing. As you might imagine, it's not a very good one. It's all-out attack from Milan, and they know how much they need a breakthrough.
@m7mdBin5alid Come on Milan we need at least a point...
@Asiedu99 Milan will use these 20 minutes to turn things right...
Marco Di Vaio
Mark van Bommel
Bologna replace Marco Di Vaio with Robert Acquafresca. The visitors will continue to go forward here, and will feel they have every chance of nicking a killer goal.
The former Liverpool player's first contribution is to commit a foul on the edge of the area, and a Milan attack comes to nothing. Brilliant.
Confirmation of that change, as Aquilani comes on to replace Mark van Bommel, who did not look fully fit out there today.
They look to be bringing on midfielder Alberto Aquilani to make the difference. Is that the right decision to make? With Maxi Lopez kicking his heels on the bench, I would say no.
Milan have twenty minutes to rescue something from this game. Fail to do so, and Juventus will be holding all the cards in the Serie A title race.
Yellow Card Daniele Bonera
An attacking change from Milan, as Urby Emanuelson replaces Luca Antonini. The Dutchman looks to have slotted in at left-back, but I can't imagine he'll stay there long.
Acrobatic defending from Cherubin, who fly-kicks Muntati's cross over his own bar. Milan are trying to turn the screw.
Dramatic stuff here. Another superb Ibrahimovic chip releases Cassano, who is through on goal, but a combination of Agliardi and Portanova is able to block the striker's effort. Another big chance has gone.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks like he could cry. Another offside decision goes against the striker as Abate plays the ball through, but this time it looks a fair call.
Bologna are making a change. Alessandro Diamanti has been excellent today, but is being brought off for the young Frenchman Saphir Taider. Looking for a storyline? He's owed by Juventus...
Now that would have been something. Milan have a corner, and the ball is won by Alessandro Nesta. The veteran's header flashes across goal, and a rare goal for the centre-back looks on the cards, but Ramirez is able to make the clearance.
@ferrari_juve355 Poor Allegri is getting sacked over these ghost goals...
@RabeaMakhoul Cassano might be the solution, but why play an unfit player while still having viable creative options at the bench?
Is that the moment that brings Milan to life? Robinho is a different player this half, and fires a stinging shot at goal that Agliardi does well to palm away.
Controversy here. Cassano releases Ibrahimovic with a delightful chip, and the Swede kills the ball stone dead before chipping the ball beyond Agliardi. Cherubin makes the clearance, but the ball has already crossed the line. However, De Marco has called the play back for offside. On second look, Ibra was a yard onside, if not more. This time, he may be right to complain.
Oh get up. Ibrahimovic throws himself down after backing into Nicolo Cherubin, but that will never be a penalty for as long as you or I will live.
Massimiliano Allegri agrees with me, and hauls off Clarence Seedorf, who disappears straight down the tunnel. Onto the field comes Antonio Cassano. What a story it would be if he could turn things around here.
And now Antonini fires in a cross that clears everyone. Milan need to change things up.
Bologna have settled into their comfort zone after that quick Milan start. Robinho attempts to pick out Ibrahimovic with a cross, but there are three white shirts on hand to shepherd the ball to safety.
Sometimes he is just brilliant. Diamanti skips away down the right, twisting Abate up in the process, and stabs in a shot from an impossible angle. It's creeping under the crossbar until Abbiati tips the ball over. The ball might have taken a slight deflection, but that was still inspired stuff from the Italy international.
Yellow Card Antonio Nocerino
Always nice to see your centre-forward tracking back, and Marco Di Vaio has done just that. The number 9 loses the ball in an attacking position, but sprints back to the edge of his own 18-yard line to win back possession. That's dedication for you.
Nocerino is now booked for a foul on Ramirez. Bologna are unable to turn the free-kick into an attempt on goal.
Big chance! Robinho has started the half brightly, and jinks his way to the byeline before picking out Nocerino. The goalscoring midfielder sends his shot flying wide of the far post. Milan can't afford to waste those.
@RengerDotinga Milan's advantage is that Bol. have little to play for. The Rossoneri need the win much more than Bol. need to avoid defeat. Yes, Renger, but by the same token Bologna have nothing to lose, so can play without fear.
And now Robinho wants a piece of the action. The Brazilian's effort, however, is well wide from 25 yards.
Straight away, that is the best moment that Milan have managed today. Clarence Seedorf skips away from a challenge on the edge of the box and lets fly. A smart save from Agliardi denies him.
@Asiedu99 - "Milan really need cassano and el shaarawy to change things up in order to win the maximum points." Problem is that one of those players isn't even on the bench.
Good comments, keep them coming Twitter. But the players are back out and Milan have a game to turn around.
@RabeaMakhoul - I find it stupid that Allegri keeps insisting on playing 'cross to Ibra' game with three defensive midfielders. One dimensional.
Ah, here's one. @ferrari_juve355 Milan have dipped in form at the worst time, Juve are at their peak. An undefeated double is possible!
Not many people out of Twitter seem to think Bologna can hold onto this...
@SarahThLu answers my earlier question: "Yes of course it's more satisfying to win by playing! And I think AC Milan are gonna come back too.. :)"
@Sir_Hawk says "Allegri shd sub Seedorf for Cassano." Surely that's telling, when you would rather a guy who has just had heart surgery over a player who has won four European Cups?
You Milan fans are also citing defensive weakness to explain today's showing. I'll just ask you this. If Nesta is strong enough to keep Barcelona at bay, why can't he cope with Bologna?
Strong opinions there from @Ribzy101. But I wouldn't say Milan are out of this one yet. If even a couple of their attackers start firing, they are capable of scoring at will. Whether they will re-discover their form, however, is another matter.
@Ribzy101 Serie A, the league where any team can beat any team. Once you concede there is no way back...
To Sarah's last tweet, Juve remain in pole position to win the title, but surely it would be more satisfying to win it for themselves? At the moment, the Scudetto is being presented to them on a silver platter.
@SarahThLu - I really want Bologna to win because I want Juventus to win the title.. They have been amazing this season :)
Goal.com's Renger Dotinga hoping for a better showing from Milan's star names, there. Something significant needs to change if the Rossoneri are going to turn this around. Controlling the ball would be a mighty good start.
@RengerDotinga Milan have the quality to win this one, but the big boys need to step up here. Rooting for a game-changing Seedorf performance.
@ishawkat - Second half will be AC Milan's comeback ! FORZA MILAAAAN !
The half ends with Muntari attempting to collect a through-ball inside the box, which Agliardi gathers. The teams come off, and Bologna are good value for their 1-0 lead. Milan, quite simply, have been awful.
@m7mdBin5alid Allegri should let Maxi play instead of Robinho and Cassano instead of Seedorf...
That is definitely header of the day from Daniele Portanova, who covers over 50 yards with his clearance. Emphatic defending as we come towards the end of the first half.
It's just so frustrating, because he is infinitely better than this. Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes up a great attacking position, but plays an absurdly heavy first-time pass that runs straight to Ramirez. Bologna really look comfortable here. How often can you say that about a side visiting San Siro?
Ibrahimovic is played into space by Muntari, but as the Swede turns to face goal, he forgets to control the ball, which runs harmlessly out of play. It's been desparate at times from Allegri's side.
Optimistic tweetings, there. That's what I like to see.
@Asiedu99 - I think Milan will come back and win by 3 goals to 1.
Man alive that is poor. Milan have fully two mintues of possession, before Seedorf inexplicably gives the ball back to Bologna. From a long ball forward, Daniele Bonera is hopelessly caught out by Gaby Mudingayi, and the Belgian midfielder is able to flash a shot inches wide of the far post. Milan deserve to be two down, I'm afraid.
A red card wouldn't help Bologna's cause, however. Having already been booked, Perez is in hard and late on Clarence Seedorf, and is very lucky to escape without a second caution.
If you're a Milan fan, you must be getting worried. Again, Milan give the ball away, this time Antonini the culprit, and Marco Di Vaio is so close to flashing a header goalwards from a dangerous cross.
Despite the intense Bologna defence, Abate is still able to find space inside the area, but Agliardi is out superbly to deflect the right-back's shot away. Good goalkeeping.
Every white Bologna shirt is back inside its own half. A sign of how Pioli's side will be approaching the rest of the game?
Super defending by Bologna. Robinho hustles his way into the box, and his ball across goal creates a scramble on the goal line. Somehow, Morleo slides to get the ball away. Nocerino looked certain to score there.
Good effort from Diamanti, but Abbiati is well behind it. Milan need to shake things up if they want to stay in this title race.
Milan are not at the races yet. Diamanti is brought down on the corner of the box by Nesta, who kicks the ball away in frustration. Could things get even worse for the Rossoneri?
That is so cheeky. Milan give the ball away again, and Diamanti attempts to beat Abbiati from inside his own half. The ball is only a foot or so from the top corner, you know. Audacious and so nearly spectacular.
Assist Alessandro Diamanti
Goal G. Ramírez
GOOALLL BOLOGNA! Classic counter-attacking goal. Seedorf's free-kick is headed away, and a sluggish van Bommel loses the ball to Diamanti. The Italian carries the play to the edge of the box before releasing Gaston Ramirez, and the Uruguayan makes no mistake as he toe-pokes past Abbiati. Another shock on the cards at San Siro?
Yellow Card Diego Pérez
Very nice from Nocerino, who twists Diego Perez this way and that before being brought down by the Uruguayan. Perez becomes the first booking of the afternoon. Good position for Milan again.
Milan need to watch it at the back. Diamanti releases Archimede Morleo on the left, and his cross finds Gaston Ramirez at the back post. He perhaps should have shot, but chooses to pull the ball across goal, and Nesta is able to clear. The home side are giving an alarming amount of room to their opponents inside the penalty area.
Good defending from Nicolo Cherubin, who heads out for a corner under significant pressure from Ibrahimovic. The corner comes to nothing.
Not the best effort from Gaston Ramirez. The Uruguayan curls the ball nicely, but gets no pace or height on his kick. Abbiati has an age to get down and gather.
Welcome back Mark van Bommel. The Dutch midfielder steams into Diamanti 30-yards out, and it's as plain a free-kick as you will ever see. Chance for Bologna now.
That isn't too clever at the back either from Milan. Ibrahimovic knocks a Diamanti free-kick straight up in the air, and Christian Abbiati needs to attempts to punch the ball clear. Lacking a touch of quality so far in this game.
What a miss! Seedorf curls over a beauty of a cross, which falls at Ibrahimovic's feet. He has time to control, pick his spot.... and punts the ball wide! It was genuinely easier to score.
Some decent build-up play from Milan leads to Abate being played into space on the right. His deep cross is collected by Antonini, who wins a corner...
Andrea Raggi sticks out a boot and Bologna clear. Ibrahimovic says he was pulled down in the box. I say he made a meal of it.
Milan win a free-kick on the right touchline after Diego Perez brings down Antonio Nocerino. Chance to create something...
Nesta and Di Vaio suffer a clash of heads in the centre of the park, and both will require treatment. Won't help pick up the pace of the game, this.
Although that isn't much better, as Diamanti attempts to play a throw in first-time and knocks the ball straight out of play. Step it up lads.
Rather a slow pace to the game still. Typified as Nesta swings a lazy ball out wide, which is too overhit for Ignazio Abate to control. Milan certainly not playing with nerves, but a touch of nonchalance so far.
First sign of Alessandro Diamanti, one of the more expressive players in the game, going down hilariously under a rather clumsy challenge. The former West Ham man scored a superb goal for the Rossoblu last week, and certainly has the ability to be the match winner again here.
The kick is rolled to Clarence Seedorf, who pulls his shot wide of the near post.
Here's a free-kick for Milan after Mudingayi brings down Ibrahimovic on the edge of the box...
The atmosphere is certainly muted inside San Siro, perhaps as a direct result of that Morosini tribute. Ibrahimovic nearly has the crowd on its feed though, flicking an outrageous flick with the outside of right right boot into the area. Nobody on the end of it, but it's a joy to see that pass even attempted.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets an early sight of goal, which is always an ominous sign. The big striker hits a low drive hard at goal after being fed by Robinho. Bologna keeper Agliardi is down smartly to make the save.
And straight away, Sulley Muntari brings down Gaby Mudingayi in the centre circle. No messing from Milan.
Bologna kick us off, playing from left to right.
A very touching moment there. Now on to the football. Referee Andrea De Marco has his whistle to his lips…
We will have a minute's silence before today's kick off in memory of Morosini's death. Applause rings out at the San Siro while the players stand arm-in-arm. A nice touch.
The teams are filing out onto a sun-kissed pitch. After the shock defeat of two weeks ago, Milan have a ghost to lay to rest in front of their home fans. If they fail, Juventus are waiting to take full advantage. Keep those tweets coming over to @woodstome.
Bologna make four changes from the side that beat Cagliari two weeks ago. Federico Agliardi replaces Jean-Francois Gillet in goal, Gyorgy Garics is in for Nico Pulzetti, and up front, Marco Di Vaio and Gaston Ramirez replace Henry Gimenez and Robert Acquafresca. BOLOGNA LINEUP: (3-4-2-1): Agliardi; Raggi, Portanova, Cherubin; Garics, Mudingayi, Perez, Morelo; Diamanti, Ramirez, Di Vaio. Bench: Stojanovic, Antonsson, Rubin, Taider, Kone Gimenez, Acquafresca.
Here’s your teams for today’s match. Milan welcome Mark van Bommel back to the midfield, but centre-back pairing Thiago Silva and Philippe Mexes are sidelined through injury. Alessandro Nesta starts at the back alongside Daniele Bonera, and Clarence Seedorf will support front two Robinho and Ibrahimovic. MILAN LINEUP: (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Bonera, Antonini; Nocerino, van Bommel, Muntari; Seedorf; Ibrahimovic, Robinho. Bench: Amelia, Yepes, Gattuso, Aquilani, Emanuelson, Lopez, Cassano.
I will, of course, be looking for your contributions during this afternoon’s entertainment. To see your comments up on the live feed, get in touch via @woodstome on Twitter.
With six games to go this season, Bologna sit just six points above the dreaded relegation places. After a run of one win in their last five, they are desperately looking for those final few points that will secure their league status. They may not have beaten Milan in their last six attempts, but when your club is up against it, all such records go out of the window. The last meeting between these sides ended in a 2-2 draw, and a repeat of that scoreline could have huge connotations at the bottom and the top of the Serie A table.
As Juventus have been stealing a march at the top of the league, Milan have not been particularly impressive at playing catch up. A draw, a defeat, and a narrow victory over Chievo is not the best way to put the frighteners on your league rivals. Nonetheless, Massimiliano Allegri’s team remain just a point adrift in the title race, and with the level of talent on display, despite the injuries this squad has suffered, you would be a fool to write them off any time soon. If for no other reason, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a pretty fearsome record to keep going. The Swedish striker has been in the side that has won the league title for seven consecutive seasons. How d’you like them apples.
The statistics are certainly on Milan’s side. Their form at San Siro is intimidating, having only lost two home league games since January 2011. One of those defeats, however, came just two weeks ago against lowly Fiorentina. A one-off blip this may be, but Stefano Pioli’s side may feel that if there is ever a good time to have a go at the reigning champions on their own turf, this could be it.
On to today’s game. At the business end of a title race, playing first has its definite advantages, but with those comes the dreadful weight of expectation. Particularly when playing at home against a team in the bottom half of the league. Can the Rossoneri deal with the pressure?
This weekend sees the return of league football to Italy after a weeklong hiatus; following the tragic death of Piermario Morosini, who had a one-year spell at Bologna back in 2006. It goes without saying that this incident has cast a shadow over the remainder of this season, but the outpouring of sympathy from the footballing world, along with the support shown towards Morosini’s surviving sister, has been touching to see nonetheless.
Welcome to Goal.com, and to San Siro, for Milan-Bologna, another crucial game in the saga that is the Serie A title race. Having let a strong lead slip over the past few weeks, Milan can (temporarily at least) go back to the top of the pile this afternoon, with rivals Juventus not playing until this evening. I’m Tom Woods (@woodstome), and I’ll be bringing you all the action as it unfolds.
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