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Italy - Serie A
January 19, 2014
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: M. Bergonzi
• Attendance: 30953
M. Balotelli 82'
Milan remain in eleventh place despite the win, while Verona pass up the opportunity to move above Inter into firth with defeat this evening. That's all from me for tonight guys and girls. Thanks for joining me! Goodbye.
FULL-TIME: MILAN 1-0 VERONA – The Rossoneri leave San Siro with all three points from Seedorf's first game in charge thanks to a late Balotelli penalty after a rash challenge from Gonzalez on Kaka. The home side dominated possession over the course of the game, but were restricted to efforts from distance before that penalty in the closing stages.
90' + 3'
After an uneventful period of added time the referee blows his whistle to mark the end of this game!
90' + 1'
Yellow CardDomenico Maietta
90' + 1'
The fourth official signals for three minutes of added time...
MARVELLOUS CHALLENGE FROM ZAPATA! The Colombian centre-back produces a sublime slide tackle to dispossess Martinho just as the Brazilian looks to swing a cross to Iturbe from the left side of the box.
Halfredsson catches Balotelli about half an hour after he had flicked the ball on for Milan. The hosts win a free kick and a chance to waste some valuable seconds in the closing stages at San Siro.
Verona waste another couple of corners in the closing stages, as Milan defend their lines well to clear the ball away from danger.
Halfredsson curls the set piece towards Moras on the penalty spot, but he is beaten to the ball by Zapata, who heads the ball emphatically clear.
The visitors win a corner on the left...
Milan lead 1-0 thanks to that Balotelli spot-kick, with just seven minutes plus added time left on the clock. Can Verona hit back?
Penalty GoalMario Balotelli
BALOTELLI STROKES THE SPOT-KICK PAST RAFAEL! The cool Italian calmly whips the ball into the right corner after Rafael had dived to the left.
Gonzalez is the man penalised as he lunges in to dispossess Kaka on the left side of the Verona box. The referee has got that spot on – the defender clearly caught the Brazilian, who was going absolutely nowhere!
MILAN HAVE A PENALTY!
Yellow CardRiccardo Montolivo
Kaka attempts to tiptoe his way into the Verona box, but he loses the ball to Maietta and the visitors look to break at pace... That is brought to a crashing halt by a cynical foul from Montolivo on Halfredsson though, and the Milan midfielder is booked for his troubles.
Seedorf makes his final change of the game, introducing Andrea Petagna at Robinho's expense.
Milan's fans howl as Moras clears the ball away for the umpteenth time this evening. The centre-back has been impressive in defence for the visitors, and has played a large part in limiting Milan's opportunities in front of goal.
Robinho and Balotelli combine well this time, and only some alert defending from Halfredsson stops the ball falling at the feet of Kaka at the back post after Robinho had curled an inviting cross in his direction.
Yellow CardMatías Silvestre
GREAT STRIKE FROM ITURBE! The Argentine forward shows Milan's attackers how to do it by unleashing a venomous shot from distance that Abbiati has to spring to his right to keep out.
Robinho picks up the ball 25 yards from goal, and though Balotelli makes a fine run to his left the Brazilian takes a shot on himself. His effort does not really test Rafael though, and the Verona goalkeeper has little trouble in palming the ball down before catching it and clearing it upfield.
Iturbe wants a free kick high on the right after being dispossessed by Emanuelson but the referee waves away his protests and Milan proceed to attack down their left side.
ROBINHO RATTLES THE POST! Milan appear to react to the crowd immediately, as Robinho thumps one against the left-hand post, and then Balotelli draws a decent save from Rafael just moments later.
The San Siro crowd, for all their earlier joviality, are beginning to lose their patience with Milan as the score remains goalless as we head into the final 20 minutes of this game.
MARTINHO TESTS ABBIATI! The Verona sub bursts into the box on the left and flicks an effort at goal from a tight angle that forces the Milan shotstopper into making a smart stop at his near post.
STAT: Milan have scored at least two goals in five of their last six matches in Serie A.
Montolivo is giving the ball away far too easily in the centre of the park for Milan. Seedorf would never have done that... The Rossoneri coach decides to make another change following Montolivo's latest mistake, but it is Honda that makes way, for Valter Birsa.
Verona make a change on the hour mark as the ineffective Cacia is replaced by Raphael Martino.
Catching practice for Abbiati! Iturbe's left-footed set piece is right down the throat of the Milan goalkeeper, and he gathers the ball oh so comfortably.
And now Verona have a free kick themselves in a dangerous position, after Montolivo and Robinho combined to stop Iturbe illegally about 30 yards from goal.
But the Verona wall stands firm and Balotelli's effort is deflected away from danger!
Cirigliano catches Balotelli on the ankle 35 yards from goal and Milan have another free kick and another opportunity to test Rafael...
Montolivo launches a pass forward to Balotelli but the Italian fails to keep the ball in play and a heavy first touch takes it over the line for a Verona goal kick.
The first substitution of Seedorf's reign sees Matias Silvestre replace Bonera, which I imagine must be because of a knock picked up by the centre-back.
Iturbe shrugs off a couple of challenges in the centre of the pitch before threading a pass out to Romulu on the right for Verona. The Brazilian curls a cross towards Cacia in the Milan box, but play is brought back as the linesman adjudges the Italian to have strayed into an offside position.
STAT: Milan are unbeaten in all 23 Serie A home matches against Verona. They have won 14 and drawn nine.
A loose touch from Balotelli loses possession for Milan inside the Verona half, but the Italian shows good perseverance to chase Romulo down and win the ball back for his side.
Cacia was top scorer in Serie B last season, notching 24 times in 35 games for Verona, but the Italian forward has been quiet so far in this game. He's been given a chance upfront in the absence of the ill Luca Toni, and will want to improve on his first-half performance in the second period.
Verona get the second half underway at San Siro...
STAT: Balotelli had six shots in the first half of this game, twice the number of shots made by all Verona's players. (via Opta)
HALF-TIME: MILAN 0-0 VERONA – The game remains goalless as the teams trudge off at the break, but there have been encouraging moments for both sides. Milan, under the tutelage of new coach Seedorf, have looked brighter in the opening 45 minutes than they have for some time in Serie A, with Kaka, Robinho and Balotelli particularly impressive. Verona have been restricted to the rare counter attack, but on those occasions the likes of Romulo and Iturbe have both posed problems to Milan's defence.
45' + 1'
And there is the half-time whistle!
Robinho shimmies past Romulo on the left and arrows a cross into the box that is cleared off the foot of Balotelli just as he looked set to blast at goal.
Robinho is sweating. The Brazilian has put in a serious shift this evening, which is in stark contrast to a number of games this season. Only a slightly overhit pass from Kaka just stopped him from going through one-on-one with Rafael, after he had ghosted in behind the right-back Gonzalez.
ANOTHER SAVE FROM RAFAEL! The Verona goalkeeper parries a thumping Balotelli free kick away from danger after the ball bounced up in front of him dangerously.
GOOD STRIKE FORM BALO! The mercurial Italian has found some joy cutting in from the left and shooting with his right, and his latest jaunt has forced Rafael into making a very impressive save low to his left.
Milan win a corner of their own after Montolivo's rising strike is tipped behind. Honda's cross finds Balotelli at the back post but he is unable to get an effort at goal under pressure from Maietta.
The corner from Romulo fails to find a Verona head, and though Halfredsson eventually rifles a shot goalwards from 30 yards for the visitors it does not really trouble Abbiati in the Milan goal.
Romulu slides an inviting pass into the right-hand channel to Iturbe, but the Argentine attacker is unable to get a cross into the box due to an aggressive challenge from Bonera. No free kick for Verona, but they do have a corner for their troubles.
How Domenico Maietta has stayed on his feet there I do not know! The Italian defender just put his head in front of a stinging shot from Robinho, but barely batted an eyelid after the ball struck him full in the face.
There is a stern look on Seedorf's face as the camera pans to the Milan technical area, but the former Rossoneri midfielder will not be too upset by what he has seen in this first half – his side have looked bright, despite the lack of a goal.
Kaka drifts past a challenge from Gonzalez and spins a cross towards Robinho. The Brazilian is beaten in the air though, as Vangelis Moras heads the ball clear.
Gonzalez is caught by a high foot from Montolivo and the visitors are awarded a free kick on the halfway line.
The Milan fans roar in approval as Kaka and Honda work the ball brilliantly in a crowded area just outside the Verona box. Sadly the move is brought to an end when Kaka unsuccessfully tries to feed the ball to Balotelli rather than shooting at goal.
Iturbe knocks the ball behind off the legs of Zapata but the referee inexplicably decides it should be a goal kick for Milan. The result? A perturbed Iturbe.
The Argentine's wicked left foot has caused some damage in similar positions from set pieces this season, but on this occasion his curling strike flies a yard or so over Abbiati's crossbar.
Here's a chance for Verona... Iturbe lines up for a free kick 30 yards from goal, just right of centre.
Just to confirm for those that were worried, Seedorf is looking incredible in the Milan dugout tonight. He's wearing black trousers, a dark grey coat and a black scarf.
Balotelli keeps the ball in play neatly with a backheel over on the left, and Milan quickly move it all the way out to De Sciglio on the opposite side. He flings a hopeful cross into the box but it is far too heavy for Balotelli to connect with and the ball bounces all the way out for a throw-in.
Iturbe is flagged offside by the linesman on the near side and that is a let off for the Milan defence! He was all alone on the penalty spot after drifting away from Zapata and Bonera to receive the cross from the right.
BALOTELLI BLASTS OVER! The former Manchester City frontman cuts in from the left and lets rip from 20 yards with his right, but the shot is always going over as the ball flies above the crossbar.
Zapata beats Romulo in a foot race on the right-hand side, after Verona had ventured forward for one of the first times this evening.
HUGE CHANCE FOR HONDA!! The Milan midfielder has a glorious chance to mark his first Serie A start with a goal, but his touch lets him down inside the area and the ball bounces straight into the arms of Rafael.
STAT: Milan are undefeated in 19 of their last 21 home matches in Serie A.
BALOTELLI DRAGS A SHOT WIDE! The Italy international times his run brilliantly to latch on to a forward pass from Kaka, but his instinctive strike fails to test Rafael, as the ball bobbles wide of the left-hand post.
Robinho leaves it for Honda, but he will probably be immediately regretting that decision as the Japanese midfielder blasts an effort high into the stands.
Kaka is fouled just to the right of the penalty area and Milan have a free kick. Honda is the man lining up the set piece...
There's a vibrancy about the Rossoneri's play tonight that has been sorely missing in recent months. Even Robinho looks sharp. It's been all Milan in the opening 10 minutes.
Verona may be 10 points ahead of Milan in Serie A but they are being pinned back inside their own half by Seedorf's side at the moment. Milan have just fashioned another goalscoring chance – this time Kaka was the man that threatened. A decent cross by Balotelli was met by the Brazilian, but his headed effort drifted off target.
Rafael punches the ball away under pressure from Balotelli! A rising strike from Urby Emanuelson looked to be looping onto the head of the waiting striker, but the goalkeeper was just able to fling his hand in and flick the ball to safety.
Daniele Bonera gets across well to nick the ball away from Iturbe as he looked to power down the right-hand side. Verona have not seen a lot of the ball so far in this one, with Milan looking full of confidence.
The Milan fans are in fine voice tonight for their new coach's first game in charge. Every pass is being cheered manically in the opening stages at San Siro.
One Brazilian sets up another for Milan as Kaka threads a fine pass through to Robinho. His first-time shot does not have enough behind it to trouble Rafael in the Verona goal though, who kneels down and gathers the ball comfortably.
The hosts win an early corner after strong play from Balotelli on the right, but they waste the set piece by taking it short and then promptly losing possession.
Balotelli and Robinho get the game going for the Rossoneri...
The teams are just making their way out at San Siro, so kick-off will be delayed by a few minutes over in Milan.
Seedorf watched from the stands as his new side beat Spezia in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday and has reiterated how determined he is to hit the ground running. He said: "I will do everything to take Milan back to the top of the world. I feel at home here and hope to contaminate the team with my great enthusiasm. I can’t wait to get started. We want to turn the situation around straight away to make the fans happy."
VERONA TEAM NEWS: Luca Toni misses this game because of flu, which means Daniele Cacia starts in a front three alongside Juan Manuel Iturbe and Juan Gomez Taleb. Adrian Cirigliano replaces Jorginho in central midfield, following the Brazilian's move to Napoli.
MILAN TEAM NEWS: Seedorf plumps for a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Keisuke Honda, Kaka and Robinho supporting Mario Balotelli in attack. The Dutchman has a fairly depleted squad to choose from for his first game in charge, with Giampaolo Pazzini, Stephan El Shaarawy, Ignazio Abate, Kevin Constant and Sulley Muntari all out through injury or suspension.
SUBS: Nicolas, Borra, Albertazzi, Donati, Martinho, Jankovic, Rubin, Donsah, Marques, Cacciatore, Donadel
VERONA (4-3-3): Rafael; Gonzalez, Moras, Maietta, Agostini; Romulo, Cirigliano, Hallfredsson; Iturbe, Cacia, Gomez Taleb
SUBS: Gabriel, Coppola, Zaccardo, Rami, Mexes, Silvestre, Cristante, Poli, Nocerino, Birsa, Petagna
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Zapata, Bonera, Emanuelson; Montolivo, De Jong; Honda, Kaka, Robinho; Balotelli
Without further ado, let's have a quick look at the starting line-ups before kick-off...
Massimiliano Allegri was relieved of his managerial duties following last week's disappointing defeat to Sassuolo, and the Milanese club moved quickly to fill the post by appointing Seedorf on Thursday. The former Netherlands international spent a decade at San Siro between 2002-2012, but has no prior coaching experience. He's been well and truly thrown in at the deep end, with Milan currently occupying 12th place in Serie A.
My name is Charlie Scott and I'll be bringing you colourful updates from the game as it unfolds over in Milan.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to LIVE coverage of the final Serie A game of the weekend, which sees Clarence Seedorf make his bow as Milan coach. Tonight the Rossoneri face sixth-placed Verona at San Siro.
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