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Italy - Serie A
November 2, 2013
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: P. Mazzoleni
• Attendance: 44261
J. Vargas 27'
Borja Valero 73'
FULL-TIME: MILAN 0-2 FIORENTINA Rossoneri fans greeted the final whistle with a cacophony of jeers and whistles of their own after another below-par performance from their team. Credit to Fiorentina though, who took their chances well to score twice through Vargas and Valero either side of half-time. The result leaves Milan in 10th place, 16 points off the Champions League qualification positions as things stand. The pressure is well and truly on Allegri, with Barcelona next on their fixture list.
90' + 3'
And there is the final whistle!
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Joaquin wins a throw deep in Milan's half after more decent play against Saponara. The former Real Betis midfielder has been superb for Fiorentina since coming on as a substitute after half-time.
There will be three minutes of added time at San Siro. Time for a late Milan comeback? I very much doubt it.
Kaka, meanwhile, has been just about the only positive to come from this game for the hosts. The Brazilian has rolled back the years at times tonight to ghost past opposition players and find his teammates with some clever passes.
I cannot believe Balotelli is set to play a full 90 minutes. He has been woeful this evening, both on and off the ball. Matri was asked to warm up by Allegri at half-time but there has been no sight of him in this second half.
Vecino slices an effort some way wide from quite a distance for the away team. Gabriel, despite being on the losing team, shows little to no urgency in getting the ball back though...
Fiorentina are slowing the tempo of the game down now as we reach the final few minutes. It has been a very professional performance from Montella's men. They have not seen huge amounts of the ball but when chances have arisen they have gobbled them up by scoring twice.
GREAT STRIKE FROM MATOS! The Viola striker's bearings are slightly off as his 20-yard effort flies six feet wide, but there can be no faulting his technique, he struck the ball cleanly and true with his right foot there and had Gabriel scrambling.
Fiorentina threaten down the right as time runs out for a Milan comeback. Joaquin has been very impressive since his introduction, showing composure in possession and no shortage of confidence in taking on Saponara.
SIGNS OF LIFE FROM MILAN!!! Kaka weaves his way past Pasqual on the right with some nifty footwork and after exchanging passes with Niang whips a decent ball into the area. His team-mates show lesser levels of enthusiasm to get back into this game though and there is nobody there to challenge Savic for the ball.
Allegri is shaking his head on the touchline as his side continue to be second-best in many respects. They are failing to close Fiorentina down in possession and have barely tested Neto over the course of this game.
Milan fans are leaving already! It has been another below-par performance from their team and many of them are making their feelings known by exiting before the final whistle.
Goal Borja Valero
VALERO MAKES IT 2-0!! Joaquin whips a delicious cross in from the right after ghosting past Saponara that Gabriel can only parry straight into the path of the Spanish midfielder. He makes no mistake from close range, calmly stroking the ball high into the net.
Vargas draws a foul from Abate and the visitors have YET ANOTHER free kick. This one is over on the left-hand side about 40 yards from goal. Pasqual's set piece is in fact worse than his last attempt though, as it clips the wall and bounces out for a throw-in. He makes amends slightly in the immediate aftermath though, by winning a corner off the legs of Abate.
Zaccardo ambles forward to attack a Milan corner but his header cannons into the crowd and causes no problem for Neto in the Fiorentina goal.
Milan choose to make another change of their own hot on the heels of Rossi's departure, as Muntari makes way for Riccardo Saponara. The former Pompey man started well but his influence has faded dramatically since half-time.
Fiorentina make their second change of the evening as Rossi departs to be replaced by Joaquin.
INSIGHT: Balotelli will be suspended against Chievo after picking up a yellow card for that ridiculous challenge on Neto a few minutes ago.
A timid free kick from Pasqual on the left for the away side is comfortably hacked clear by Zapata, as both teams continue their impotent start to the second period.
STAT: No side in the top 10 have leaked more than the 17 conceded by Milan, who have also been unable to find a regular source of goals in the absence of Stephan El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini.
Allegri has got to be considering hauling Balotelli off. The former Manchester City man has had one of those games tonight. He's clashed with a number of Fiorentina players in the opening hour or so, and has just been handed a yellow card after flying through the back of Neto while chasing a through ball.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
The Viola's front three are doing well to press Milan's defence high up the pitch, but the likes of Zaccardo and Zapata have made no big mistakes under pressure yet.
Rossi powers forward with the ball for Montella's men but is eventually crowded out by a sea of red-and-black shirts on the edge of the Milan box. The former Villarreal star has barely featured tonight.
The first change for Milan sees Birsa replaced by Niang in attack.
Zapata climbs all over Savic while trying to connect with a corner from the left. His efforts are in vain though, as the referee awards the visitors a free kick.
It appears every month is Movember for Zaccardo, but that is in no way a bad thing. The defender's facial hair is looking particularly impressive this evening.
SOMEBODY SHOOT!! Neither side are showing much ambition going forward at present. This game needs a spark, the question is who is going to provide it?
Now he is flagged offside while trying to latch on to a well-weighted through ball from Montolivo. It has been an evening to forget for the controversial Milan striker so far. He's got 37 minutes to change that.
Idiotic from Balotelli! The Italy international crashes through the back of Vecino just outside the Fiorentina penalty area. This game has been very stop-start since the interval.
Yellow Card Alberto Aquilani
Moments after booting Constant in the face Aquilani crunches into Montolivo and is promptly shown a yellow card by the unimpressed referee.
More Milan injury woes! Constant is receiving treatment after taking a boot to the face from Aquilani from a corner.
Balotelli controls a high pass from Abate well inside the penalty area, and then does even better to tee the ball up for Birsa. The attacker's goalbound effort from 18 yards fails to test Neto though, as it catches Savic and bounces out for a corner.
The Viola get the second half going and quickly try and stretch Milan at the back with a searching pass into the right-back position. Abate does well to avert the danger though, as he nods the ball out for a throw-in.
Balotelli, despite suggestions he would make way for Matri for this second half, is part of the Milan team that line up ahead of the restart.
The teams are making their way back out for the second half. Milan will surely change something before too long, it has been an abject performance from them so far.
HALF-TIME: MILAN 0-1 FIORENTINA The home side have been disappointing once again and it is no surprise that they trail at the break to Fiorentina, albeit because of a fortuitous free kick. Vargas' firm drive caught the legs of Muntari and flew past Gabriel and into the bottom corner in the 27th minute, in a half that has provided few clearcut chances for either team. Balotelli has been in the wars for the hosts, clashing with just about every Viola player. As the two sides trudged off at the break, Allegri instructed Matri to warm up on his own, which suggests that we may have seen the last of Balotelli this evening.
45' + 2'
And there is the half-time whistle! Just the one goal separates the two teams at San Siro.
45' + 1'
Down goes Balotelli again! The Milan star wants a penalty, this time after colliding with Pasqual inside the box after driving forward with the ball. The referee waves play on, but it looks like that might be the end of Balotelli's involvement as Matri warms up on the sideline.
Birsa attempts an acrobatic volley to connect with Muntari's cross from the left, but he makes poor contact with the ball and it balloons away from danger. That just about sums up Milan's half – they have had decent ideas going forward, but are yet to execute any moves well enough to really test Neto.
How Constant thinks he is going to get away with that I do not know. The Milan full-back pushes Tomovic away with both hands to keep possession of the ball and somehow has the nerve to question the referee's decision to give Fiorentina a free kick!
He eventually walks gingerly off behind the Fiorentina goal and play carries on without him. There didn't seem to be much in that collision with Savic but the striker certainly appears to be in a fair amount of pain.
That man Balotelli is down clutching his back in the penalty area after what looked like a fairly innocuous challenge from Savic as a cross from the right came in. The medical team are on the pitch checking on the Italy international.
Balotelli thumps a pass towards Kaka straight out of play and out for a Fiorentina goal kick. The Italian has been hit-and-miss this season, so far tonight his performance has been quite emphatically in the 'miss' category.
STAT: Fiorentina have scored at least two goals in their last three matches against Milan in all competitions. They lead 1-0 tonight thanks to that deflected Vargas free kick as the game approaches the interval.
Balotelli has cut a frustrated figure so far. The enigmatic Milan forward has been under the close supervision of Rodriguez and Savic and he does not like it one bit.
Literally nobody in the stadium will be happy to see that. Ambrosini has had to be withdrawn by Fiorentina before half-time for Matias Vecino after picking up a knock in the opening half hour or so. The former Italy international served Milan so well for so many years, of course.
The less said about Valero's free kick the better to be honest. His lofted effort is easily caught by Gabriel. A disappointing try from the Spaniard.
Borja Valero shows a turn of pace I didn't think he possessed to instigate a fast-paced counterattack for the visitors, but that is brought to a crushing close after a series of fouls on Rossi by Kaka and then De Jong. Fiorentina won't mind though, as they are awarded a free kick which gives them another opportunity to test Gabriel from long range.
Manuel Pasqual cannot quite keep the ball in play on the left-hand side for the away side after overlapping past Vargas. The ball just ran over the byline as he whipped it towards the penalty spot, but the eagle-eyed officiating team pulled play back and quite rightly gave Milan a goal kick.
Yellow Card Ryder Matos
Matos picks up the first booking of the game after clashing with Kaka in the centre circle. There was a bit of a melee after the Fiorentina attacker caught the Brazilian but they appear to have settled their differences now and play is able to continue.
Advantage to the visitors then! They lead 1-0 thanks to that fortuitous strike from Vargas.
Assist Borja Valero
Goal Juan Vargas
VARGAS FIRES THE SET PIECE PAST GABRIEL!! Vincenzo Montella's side have the lead at San Siro thanks to a deflected free kick from the venomous left boot of Juan Vargas. His strike ricocheted off the right shin of Muntari and rocketed past the despairing dive of Gabriel and into the bottom left corner.
Muntari is penalised for a poor excuse for a tackle on Matos and the visitors now have a perfectly-positioned free kick 30 yards out, just right of centre.
Kaka has shown some velvety-smooth touches in the first 25 minutes of this match. Gliding in from the left-hand side Fiorentina have found it difficult to pick him up so far.
Aquilani swings an inviting free kick into the Milan box from over on the right, but none of his team-mates can make the most of a moment of uncertainty in Gabriel's penalty area and Zaccardo is able to clear the ball upfield.
NETO MAKES A SMART STOP! The Fiorentina goalkeeper dives down low to his left to keep out a sweeping effort from Birsa.
Balotelli thunders after Aquilani after losing the ball to the Viola midfielder but he cannot make amends for his uncompleted dribble as his fellow Italy international pushes forward for his team.
STAT: Despite languishing in 10th place in Serie A ahead of this game, AC Milan are undefeated in 16 of their last 17 home matches in the league.
More handbags from Balotelli and Rodriguez. The Italy international looses his cool slightly in the penalty area as Kaka prepares to take a corner on the left. The referee calls a quick time-out and has a chat with both players before play continues.
Balotelli dispossesses Ambrosini as the former Milan midfielder dallies on the ball inside his own half, and it nearly ends in a shooting opportunity for Kaka on the left-hand side of the penalty area. Fortunately for Ambrosini, Tomovic was able to deflect the Brazilian attacker's effort behind.
ANGELIC SAVE FROM GABRIEL! The Milan shot-stopper flings out a palm to divert Matos' enticing pass across the six-yard box away from danger, with Rossi lurking in the shadows nearby. That was a crucial hand from the Brazilian.
Balotelli and Rodriguez are having a right old battle early on. The Milan forward and Fiorentina centre-back have clashed on three occasions so far, the latest of which results in a free kick on the left for Allegri's side.
Rossi has barely touched the ball in the opening exchanges but he is running his little heart out regardless. The Manchester United reject has been in wonderful form this season since recovering from a torturous double ACL reconstruction, and will no doubt prove a handful for the likes of Cristian Zapata and Cristian Zaccardo this evening.
Nothing. It is easily cleared by Stefan Savic on the penalty spot.
Constant does very well to win a corner for the hosts after bombing forward down the left and seeing his cross deflected behind by Tomovic. That was very positive play from the Milan full-back. Let's see what Kaka can conjure up from the corner!
TRICKY RICKY! Kaka swivels past a bewildered Tomovic on the near side with ease and cuts the ball inside to Muntari. Sadly the move breaks down shortly afterwards, as the former Pompey man cheaply wastes possession.
Muntari finds himself with a hectare of space 30 yards from goal, but despite shifting the ball on to his right foot and firing a shot goalwards, it is blocked fairly comfortably by the Fiorentina centre-back Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Balotelli and Rossi shared a joke or two as they exchanged pleasantries in the centre circle ahead of kick-off. I wonder which of those terrific strikers will prove most effective for their respective side this evening!
GABRIEL SWEEPS UP WELL! Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper shows his ability with his feet by rushing from his goal to poke the ball away from Matos as the visitors burst forward through the centre.
Tomovic hoofs a clearance into the stands on the near side under pressure from Balotelli, as the former Manchester City forward chases down a hopeful punt forward from Kevin Constant.
We are underway at San Siro! Kaka and Balotelli take the kick-off for the hosts...
We're just minutes away from kick-off over in Milan as the players make their way out onto the pitch. Fingers crossed the game is a cracker!
The visitors line up in similar fashion, with Alberto Aquilani and Ryder Matos flanking the in form Giuseppe Rossi upfront in a 4-3-3 formation. Massimo Ambrosini returns to San Siro for the first time since his summer move to Fiorentina from Milan, the club he joined all the way back in 1995.
Allegri opts for a front three of Mario Balotelli, Valter Birsa and Kaka, as Robinho, Alessandro Matri and M'Baye Niang warm the bench. Milan are once again without Philippe Mexes, who serves the last instalment of a four-match suspension. Cristian Zaccardo starts at centre-back in the Frenchman's absence.
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Neto; Tomovic, Rodriguez, Savic, Pasqual; Valero, Vargas, Ambrosini; Aquilani, Matos, Rossi
AC MILAN (4-3-3): Gabriel; Abate, Zaccardo, Zapata, Constant; Montolivo, De Jong, Muntari; Birsa, Kaka, Balotelli
The teams are in, so let's have a quick peak at those before kick-off...
They also boast the league's top scorer in Giuseppe Rossi. The former Villarreal striker has made a superb return from a serious knee injury and already has nine goals to his name.
Fiorentina , meanwhile, have lost just one of their seven competitive away games this term and currently sit in sixth position in the league.
Massimiliano Allegri's men have slipped to 10th in the Serie A table having won just two of their last nine matches in all competitions. Milan's slow start means qualification for the Champions League appears unlikely, with the San Siro outfit needing to dramatically improve if they are to challenge for a top-three finish.
My name is Charlie Scott and I'll be your host tonight for what promises to be a very entertaining clash.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to our LIVE commentary of the Serie A clash at San Siro that pits a beleaguered Milan side against a Fiorentina team looking to start November with a bang after losing their first game in seven matches against Napoli during the week.
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