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Italy - Serie A
February 14, 2014
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: M. Bergonzi
• Attendance: 29631
M. Balotelli 86'
As for Milan, they jump into the top half thanks to Super Mario's goal of the season contender. Next up for Clarence Seedorf's side is the Champions League round of 16 clash with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. Thanks for joining me, Max Bentley, on this live commentary. Until next time, goodbye.
Bologna remain four points above the drop zone but Ballardini will know that if his side can reproduce that performance week in week out, they will be safe in Serie A. Next up for the Rossoblu is a home tie against second-placed Roma.
FT: A moment of individual brilliance from Mario Balotelli gives Clarence Seedorf's side a valuable three points. Milan had struggled to break down the resilient Bologna defence all game and coach Davide Ballardini will be devastated as his side fail to crawl further away from the relegation zone.
90' + 3'
Balotelli picks himself up to take the free kick but he cannot replicate his earlier effort as his shot blazes high over the crossbar.
90' + 2'
Yellow Card Erik Friberg
Erik Friberg has only been on the pitch a few minutes but he goes into the referee's notebook after he trips Balotelli on the counter-attack.
Milan go close to doubling their lead when Zaccardo ghosts into the box to meet Montolivo's corner but his header flashes narrowly wide of the target.
Ballardini looks distraught after that Balotelli wonder goal and he makes a desperate double substitution with Moscardelli and Friberg entering the action. Can they find a late equaliser?
Yellow Card Diego Pérez
Diego Perez will miss Bologna's next game as he picks up a booking.
Assist Riccardo Montolivo
Goal Mario Balotelli
WHAT A GOAL FROM BALOTELLI! The enigmatic forward has looked off the pace all game but he produces a magnificent strike from some 30 yards which rifles beyond Curci and into the top corner. That is a goal worthy of winning any game. Stunning.
Yellow Card Cristian Zaccardo
Zaccardo picks up a late booking as he hauls Laxalt to the turf.
Bologna opt to make their first change as Laxalt, who scored against Milan in the 3-3 draw earlier this season, replaces Cristaldo.
Milan are starting to look desperate now and Taarabt jinks in from the left wing before his low shot is well held by Curci. Clarence Seedorf still looks expressionless on the bench.
De Sciglio has not roamed forward as much as he did in the first half and when he does on this occasion, his cross into the middle is too high for Pazzini to meet. The clock continues to tick away for Milan.
Final roll of the dice for Milan here as Andrea Poli replaces Kaka. Can he inspire a late much-needed winner for the Rossoneri?
CHANCE FOR MILAN! Pazzini looks to open up the Bologna defence and he does excellently to bustle his way down the touchline. However, there is no urgency in the middle to meet his low cross and the striker vents his frustration as Balotelli and Kaka fail to turn the ball into the net.
Morleo shows good ambition to get forward and he latches onto Perez's pass out to the left wing. However, the wing-back seems to get stuck in two minds and his cross goes wastefully behind for a goal kick.
Kaka gets back to his feet gingerly and it seems that he will be able to continue. Taarabt tries to conjure up something special but his cross into the box goes straight into the gloves of Curci.
Christodoulopoulos has worked tirelessly for Bologna today and he shifts the ball onto his right boot outside the box but his shot is well closed down by Montolivo. Milan have an injury concern here as Kaka grimaces in pain after twisting his ankle.
Muntari has looked lethargic since coming onto the field and he feels the wrath of the home fans as he sends an easy pass straight out of play.
Natali has been superb in the air all game for Bologna and once again he rises highest to deny Rami from heading in Montolivo's floated free kick. Less than twenty minutes remaining for either side to find a winner.
Bianchi is starting to have more of an influence on this game now but he cannot break the deadlock as his fierce long-range attempt goes high over the crossbar.
The pendulum has certainly swung in Bologna's favour here and it is Ballardini's side who look the most likely to open the scoring. The visitors are having plenty of joy down the right-hand side and you feel that Taarabt needs to start giving more support to Constant.
Clarence Seedorf makes a second change and finally Pazzini is introduced to the action as he replaces the disappointing Honda.
Bologna continue to come forward and Cristaldo does well to get clear down the right before his dangerous low cross is well hacked to safety by Zaccardo. Can the visitors get their first win over Milan in 11 attempts?
This is a great spell for Bologna and Bianchi gets away from Rami for the first time in the match but his attempted lob over Abbiati bounces just wide of the target.
Nigel De Jong
Clarence Seedorf opts to make his first change of the game and it is an attacking one as Sulley Muntari replaces Nigel De Jong. I'm a little surprised that Pazzini is still waiting to be introduced to the action.
ANOTHER BOLOGNA CHANCE! The visitors continue to grow in confidence here and Garics gets forward down the right once again. The Austrian picks out Christodoulopoulos on the edge of the box and his first-time effort looks to be heading into the top corner but Abbiati produces a wonderful reflex save to turn it behind. That's brilliant goalkeeping again from the Milan No.1.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR BOLOGNA! The Rossoblu are hoping to exploit the hosts on the counter-attack and Garics marauds forward down the right before picking out the run of Cristaldo in the middle. The on-loan Metalist Kharkiv forward gets in between the Milan centre-backs but he can only poke the ball wide of the top right-hand corner on the stretch.
Taarabt continues to prove a nuisance to the Bologna defence and he wriggles beyond the challenge of Krhin before blazing wildly over the bar. If anyone looks likely to score for Milan, it is the Moroccan.
De Jong has enjoyed a tidy game in front of the Milan defence and he opts to play a direct ball over the top but it is just too far for Honda ad Curci claims. Milan look devoid of ideas going forward.
Milan are still struggling to work through the gears here and I wonder if we will see Pazzini from the bench. The 29-year-old scored five goals against Bologna last season. Balotelli, Kaka and Honda have had very little impact on this game so far.
Milan are down to ten men at the moment as Rami goes off to receive treatment for a bloody lip of his own. It seems that he just ran into Natali's shoulder there.
Constant has not got forward too often in this game but on this occasion he does well to go past Garics before fizzing a cross towards the back post. It is too deep for Honda but the Japanese playmaker does well to head the ball back towards goal although Balotelli is not alert to it and Antonsson makes the clearance.
Despite his late arrival on the teamsheet, Zaccardo has looked tidy in the heart of the Milan defence with Bianchi a marginalised figure up front. It seems that the visitors are happy to take a 0-0 here and Milan will need to start pushing a few extra bodies forward.
Yellow Card Cesare Natali
I'm not sure this is the start to the second half that Clarence Seedorf wanted as Milan are still lacking urgency. However, Natali picks up the first booking of the game after he brings down Balotelli who had spun away from him excellently.
Mauro Bergonzi is all patched up and he returns to the field to blow his whistle for the second half. Can Milan find a way to break down this resilient Bologna defence?
The players finally re-emerge from the tunnel after a brief delay. Referee Mauro Bergonzi has needed stitches in his lip after that earlier unfortunate incident.
HT: Milan 0-0 Bologna. It's not been the ideal Valentine's present from Milan to their fans so far as they head into the break goalless. Clarence Seedorf's side have shown glimpses of their quality, with Adel Taarabt particularly impressive on his home debut. However, they have found it difficult to break down a resilient and well-organised Bologna defence who have worked tirelessly to limit the impact of Balotelli, Kaka and Honda.
CHANCE FOR BOLOGNA! The visitors have an opportunity to take the lead before the break when Constant gives away a foul on the edge of the box. All the big boys are up from the back but Christodoulopoulos opts to strike for goal and disappointingly drags his shot well off target. Ballardini does not look too amused by that effort.
MONTOLIVO GOES CLOSE! Taarabt continues to cause the Bologna defence problems as he dribbles his way down the left wing. The self-proclaimed 'Moroccan Balotelli' picks out Honda on the edge of the box and with his back to goal, the Japanese midfielder lays the ball off for Montolivo whose low drive is tipped behind by Curci.
There is a stoppage in play now as the referee requires treatment after the ball hits him in the face and gives him a bloody lip.
Cristaldo has been forced to feed off scraps so far and he attempts to conjure up something special when he jinks in from the left wing before forcing Abbiati into a decent stop at the near post.
Diego Perez is giving a typically gritty performance in the heart of the Bologna midfield and his effective pressing continues to force Milan out wide. The Uruguayan has had a very solid 37 minutes.
Milan are upping the tempo here and Balotelli combines well with Kaka before his curling effort strikes the frame of Mantovani. This Bologna defence have been very organised so far.
MILAN GO CLOSE! Curci has made some fine saves so far but he lets out a huge sigh of relief as Zaccardo fails to turn the ball in from a few yards out after he had fumbled Balotelli's free kick.
In case you missed the European football news before this match, Felix Magath has replaced Rene Meulensteen as the new Fulham manager.
Bologna have defended set-pieces brilliantly so far and Bianchi gets back on this occasion to help with the defensive work as he clears a corner from the left. Davide Ballardini will be hoping his side can keep this up until half-time.
Bologna are slowing growing in confidence here and with Milan players backing off, Krhin bursts forward from midfield but his fizzed shot is well blocked by De Jong.
Milan continue to switch the ball from left to right and vice versa as they refuse to force the through ball. Despite all their possession, it is arguably Bologna who have gone the closest to scoring.
Kaka has struggled to stamp his mark on this game so far but he has a good opportunity when he finds space to meet De Sciglio's right-wing cross. However, the Brazilian lacks conviction with his header and his glanced effort goes off target.
BOLOGNA GO CLOSE! The visitors have hardly threatened so far but they go close to opening the scoring when Krhin meets Morleo's cross with a bullet header. The ball looks destined to head into the top corner but Abbiati stretches out his fingertips to turn the ball superbly over the crossbar. Wonderful save.
Natali has proved insurmountable in the air so far and he produces another crucial header to deny Rami from meeting Balotelli's fizzed free kick into the box. Bologna have conceded 39 goals from their opening 23 Serie A games.
Milan enjoy a sustained spell of possession and Taarabt continues to cause problems as he is once again fouled outside the box, this time by Perez. The hosts are being very patient in their build-up play this evening, waiting to make that incisive pass.
Clarence Seedorf will be relatively pleased with his side's performance so far. If they can keep up this tempo and continue to get their shots on goal, he will feel confident that they can win this game.
Bologna have offered very little going forward but they keep Abbiati on his toes as the veteran goalkeeper gets down quickly to smother Bianchi's shot from distance.
BALOTELLI SHOULD DO BETTER! Taarabt produces a wonderful piece of skill to spin away from Garics and he wins a free kick down the left. The ball is pumped into the box and Montolivo stings Curci's fingertips with a fierce shot into the turf before Balotelli wastefully miskicks the rebound in front of goal, with the Bologna goalkeeper struggling to get back to his feet.
De Sciglio is having plenty of joy down the right and he gallops forward once again before his dangerous low cross is well anticipated by Natali who prevents Balotelli from converting from close range.
It's all Milan in the early stages and Bologna have Natali to thank that their goal is yet to be breached as he produces a vital header to deny Honda from nodding in De Sciglio's cross from the right.
ANOTHER MILAN OPPORTUNITY! Taarabt has made a bright start on his home debut and he slices open the Bologna defence with a perfectly-weighted pass down the left for Constant. The Milan left-back looks up and attempts to pick out the run of Honda towards the back post but his low cross is too close to Curci who collects.
CHANCE FOR MILAN! It is the home side who are exerting the early pressure and Curci is forced into an early save when he comfortably deals with Montolivo's finessed effort from the edge of the box.
GLOVE WATCH! Aside from the two goalkeepers, Mario Balotelli is the only player sporting some winter gloves. It's a fairly chilly evening in Milan but I guess that is more of a fashion look from the mohican-groomed forward.
There has been a late change in the Milan line-up as Cristian Zaccardo starts in place of Cristian Zapata. I assume that is due to an injury. More on that when we hear it.
The referee blows his whistle and Bologna get the game underway. Can they earn their first win over Milan since 2008? Let's find out...
The teams emerge from the tunnel with captains Riccardo Montolivo and Diego Perez leading out the respective sides. In fact, it is Montolivo's 50th Serie A game for the Rossoneri. Milan are in their traditional red and black jerseys with Bologna donning their away white strip.
Can Milan recover from the defeat at Napoli last weekend? Kick-off is minutes away...
STAT: Milan have played 135 Serie A matches against Bologna: 60 wins, 38 draws and 37 defeats. Goal difference: 213-156.
BOLOGNA (3-5-2): Curci; Antonsson, Natali, Mantovani; Garics, Lazaros, Perez, Krhin, Morleo; Bianchi, Cristaldo.
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Rami, Zapata, Constant; De Jong, Montolivo; Honda, Kaka, Taarabt; Balotelli.
BOLOGNA TEAM NEWS: Davide Ballardini unsurprisingly names an unchanged side to the team which won 2-1 at Torino. Jonathan Cristaldo will be looking to build on his double from last week and he is partnered up front by Rolando Bianchi. Ex-Inter man Rene Krhin starts in the middle of midfield.
MILAN TEAM NEWS: Milan make five changes to the side which lost 3-1 at Napoli with Cristian Zapata, Kevin Constant, Riccardo Montolivo, Keisuke Honda and Kaka returning to the starting line-up. Adel Taarabt retains his place after scoring seven minutes into his Rossoneri debut while Mario Balotelli will be hopeful of continuing his good form after scoring four goals in his last five.
The Rossoblu did come close to stealing all three points in the reverse fixture earlier this season but late goals from Robinho and Ignazio Abate rescued a draw for Milan.
However, a win at the Giuseppe Meazza will be no easy task for Bologna who have not beaten Milan since 2008, taking just four points from a possible 30 since.
Davide Ballardini's men recorded their first victory of the year when they beat Torino 2-1 last Sunday and a win this evening would take them seven points clear of the relegation zone. Bringing you all the action from the Giuseppe Meazza, my name is Max Bentley.
What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with a dose of Serie A action! I'm not sure Clarence Seedorf can expect too many cards from Milan fans after last week's 3-1 defeat to Napoli but he will be hoping that his side can jump back into the top half of the table tonight with a win against a Bologna side desperate for points themselves.
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