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October 30, 2013
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: A. Damato
• Attendance: 30212
M. Ciani 72'
That's all he wrote folks, till next time. Bye for now.
A battling performance from both sides, and neither can begrudge the other a point from the encounter. Kaka lifted the match out of the doldrums with a stunning 18-yard strike, but Ciani headed the visitors back into contention later in the second half. The result does little to help either side at the end of the day, with Lazio still a full 10 points off Juventus in the third and final Champions League spot, while Milan languish three further points behind.
90' + 4'
The ref has had enough and blows his whistle for the last time.
90' + 3'
Ciani wastes a good chance to set Onazi on his bike down the right for a last ditch Lazio counter attack, playing the pass far too close to Abate infield. And that may just be that.
90' + 2'
90' + 2'
Balotelli with an excellent header down, Matri with a timely flick, and the ball nearly broke for Poli at the top of the box, but his shot was instantly charged down by Cana!
90' + 1'
Three minutes of added time remaining, with Milan on the ball. Petkovic seems happy with the point, and looks to waste more time with a substitution.
Poli whips in a deep, deep cross from the right flank that may have spelt trouble for Marchetti, if someone in a Rossoneri jersey had bothered to attack it. As it was, the keeper had the easiest of catches.
The directive seems to have worked, as Milan have kept the ball out of their own half for the last few minutes, looking to launch a final onslaught of their own.
Allegri yelling at his troops, probably imploring them to tighten up at the back, as Lazio keep pushing men forward in a bid to snatch the points late on.
Kaka, whose influence has waned since his goal, makes way for Robinho. Still a very positive game for the San Siro hero, who was at the heart of a few strong Milan moves.
ANOTHER CHANCE! Lazio really going for it in the closing stages! Candreva weaves his way into acres of space in the middle, but passes the ball a little too soon, when he could have carried it further forward. The ball is worked to Gonzalez on the left, but with the angle diminishing by the second, he drills a low shot that is easy pickings for Gabriel at the near post.
KLOSEEEEEE...NEARLY! Onazi with his first positive contribution of the evening and boy did he make it count! Some absolutely scintillating footwork in midfield takes him free of a seemingly insurmountable crowd of three players, and the substitute plays a slide rule pass forward for Klose on the run. The German striker has the step on Zaccardo, but puts his finish right at Gabriel, who smothers!
Gonzalez thought that he was pushed by De Sciglio at the top of the box and appeals hurriedly for a spot kick, but the referee instead rules against him, awarding Milan a free kick for a deftly spotted handball.
Halfhearted Rossoneri appeals for a penalty as Kaka goes tumbling to the turf under pressure from Cavanda on the left, but the referee is well placed to spot that one and correctly allows play to roll on.
Birsa, who has been off the pace for the second game running, sees his outing end as he is replaced by Poli.
Hard to pick a winner as the match enters the last quarter of an hour. Milan have not created as much as they did in the first half, and it took a wonder strike from Kaka to get them on the board. But Lazio have fought back from that setback, and have shown that they can cause problems when they play the ball high into the box.
Assist Antonio Candreva
Goal Michael Ciani
Too simple a goal for Milan to concede. The cross arrives from Candreva on the right, De Jong mistimes his jump and lets the ball sail over his head, and Ciani duly nods home at the near post. Game on!
CIANI TIES IT UP!
A wayward Muntari piledriver nearly deflects into the path of Balotelli on the right side, but the forward, who may have been offside anyway, cannot get a toe on the ball.
Montolivo has found a lot of happiness when advancing with the ball through the middle of the park. Onazi has done a terrible job of protecting his defence since coming on, and the Milan midfielder has another opportunity to shoot from the edge of the box after a run, but this time, it's blocked, and Cana chests the rebound into the arms of Marchetti.
Petkovic looks to be plotting another change on the sidelines, as Perea looks to be struggling with a shoulder problem. Floccari is seemingly the man chosen to step into the fray.
Marchetti a second too slow off his line to stop Balotelli's break forward completely, and it's a three-headed collision for the ball between the keeper, the striker and the covering defender Ciani - who seems to have come off the worst. After some work, Marchetti keeps a hold of the ball, and Balotelli is booked for his aggression in that confrontation.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
A rare sight, as De Jong is on the receiving end of some rough treatment in the middle. Probably not such a surprise to see Cana doing the dirty work, and the referee obliges with a yellow card.
Yellow Card Lorik Cana
Klose appealing furiously for a penalty after he claims that Zaccardo tugged him back when battling for a cross from Candreva. Replays suggest that there was little in the forward's protests though, the type of tussling that you witness on almost every ball into the box.
The next delivery is not as dangerous though, as Gabriel diverts the ball away from his box without too much trouble.
The game really storming into life as Lazio win a succession of corners, with the latest delivery nearly turned in by Klose at the near post! Gabriel and Balotelli combine to block it though, and Milan will have more defending to do...
Yellow Card Mattia De Sciglio
Yellow Card Riccardo Montolivo
Montolivo trips up Ledesma in the battle of the midfield pivots. A bittersweet victory, as the referee flashes a yellow card in his direction.
Milan have their tails up like a dog waiting for dinner. Montolivo makes some real headway down the right flank, but his cross seems to be just off the mark. Balotelli is quick to pick up the scraps though, cutting in and shooting from an identical position as Kaka moments ago, but Cana blocks his attempt!
Assist Mario Balotelli
Magnificent, magnificent goal! Balotelli tees up Kaka at the top of the box, and the Brazilian shimmies onto his right foot, before unleashing a splendid shot that leaves Marchetti rooted to his spot before nestling into the top corner!
In and out of traffic weaves Kaka, freeing himself succinctly on the byeline for a cross. He drills a low ball into the six yard box, but cannot beat the Lazio defence!
Klose is next in line to be bitten by the first touch bug, as Perea's first positive contribution, a devilish cross into the box, finds the German at the far post, but he tries to control the pass instead of firing away, fails, and allows Gabriel to grab. The wetness on the ball really playing a part as rain continues to soak San Siro.
BALO...wastes a good opening! Montolivo had advanced with the ball through a threatening position down the middle, and tees up his forward at the top of the box, but the first touch was completely dreadful.
Already more shown by Lazio in three minutes than most of the dredge that was their first half performance. A good passing sequence at the top of the box frees up Candreva for an effort, but he shanks it wide with Gabriel a little slow to get across!
A solitary change to report from the break, by the way. Hernanes has been sacrificed for Onazi by Petkovic. The Brazilian had a five-minute spell in the first half when he looked like the best Lazio attacker on the pitch (which is not saying much), but it was nothing more than a false dawn, and his evening has ended.
Here we go again!
On the balance of play, you'd have to say that Milan look the most likely candidates to get on the scoresheet. It's not been the most enjoyable encounter as the bleak weather over San Siro has put a damper on play. But the Rossoneri have been quicker to acclimatise to the conditions, testing the handling of Marchetti a few times, and missing the target on a handful of attempts from distance. Lazio have a lot of work to do in the second half, they've been abhorrent in attack, and somewhat fortunate at the back.
45' + 1'
Balotelli with the ball on the flanks against Radu with the last attack of the half. The fullback, on a yellow card, is reluctant to put in a tackle, so Balo sees the gap to squeeze in a cross. He puts in a good ball to the near post, but no one in red and black makes any effort to attack it. The half ends as Marchetti gathers the ball.
Only a minute of stoppage time to end the half, a little sparse given Montolivo's injury earlier.
Klose has already put Montolivo on the temporary treatment table with his aerial battling, and on a sudden Lazio attack, he nearly makes Gabriel suffer the same fate, with the keeper narrowly missing a forearm to the chops when plucking a cross out of the air.
Milan cranking the pistons into overdrive to end the half. Kaka is the man with the plan once again in the attacking third, but with space to pick his spot from 20 yards, he takes a touch too many and drags his shot terribly wide of the far post. That one was so tragic, that it was almost a good cross-field pass for Birsa on the overlap on the opposite side.
Marchetti gets his fingers in a knot trying to stop a venomous Montolivo drive from the edge of the box! The ball has too much power (and moisture) on it for the keeper to hold, so he awkwardly deflects it back into danger, but Ciani is there to nod it back to the keeper to claim for good.
Lazio getting their strut on as the half has wore on. Milan are having to work a lot harder in midfield to keep the balance of play even. No real chances for the visitors yet, but better signs from them as they take matters away from in front of their own goal.
Radu joins Muntari in the book for taking out Birsa, who was about to set Abate on his bike on the right flank. He took one for the team, but cannot escape the referee's justice. Yellow card.
Yellow Card Stefan Radu
The game is temporarily halted as Montolivo is down hurt from a challenge for a high ball with his own keeper Gabriel. The physios are quickly out on the pitch to treat the midfielder.
Yellow Card Sulley Muntari
Hernanes is sent skidding after a forceful challenge from Muntari, who protests his innocence, but does not fool the referee for one second, and is booked.
The Milan front line haven't been half bad themselves, but Balotelli's alter ego nearly rears its ugly head after a confrontation with Cavanda near the corner flag.
That Rossoneri midfield trio of De Jong, Montolivo and Muntari have been excellent since the first whistle. The Dutchman has done his enforcer bit with distinction, the Italian's been a superb facilitator to the forward players, and the Ghanaian is popping up everywhere in the opposition half, trying to get on the end of any move that he can.
Montolivo spanks one in Marchetti's direction from the top of the D. Too hot to handle for the keeper at the first time of asking, but with Balotelli foraging for scraps, he gets a handle on it eventually.
Better from Lazio in the last little spell, holding possession for more than a beat in the Milan half of the field. Hernanes is getting himself involved more often, and there may be service yet for Klose.
Ledesma shoos Hernanes off a free-kick, but in hindsight, he should have relegated himself to the back of the queue. With bodies clambering over each other in the box, the Buenos Aires native slams it right into De Sciglio, the first man at the near post.
Zapata just presenting a timely reminder to Petkovic and his boys that there's chances to be had at both ends. The defender slips on the wet turf, nearly turning a routine high ball into a feast for Klose.
OH RICKY! Milan show that they are just as adept at dissolving Lazio's high line as well, launching a fluid break that sees Balotelli lay off to Kaka inside the area, but on the run, he drags his finish a footstep wide of the far post!
Lazio beginning to establish a foothold in this one after skating around like Bambi on ice for the opening quarter of an hour. They've adopted a higher defensive line, which is affording Milan less space to set up camp outside the box.
KAKAAAAAAAA! A superlative hit by the Brazilian looks to be heading into the top shelf, but a last-minute swerve on the ball takes it over the crossbar! Marchetti, stretching from his toes to his fingertips, is a relieved man that the shot was not on target!
Very moist and slide-tackle inducing out on the San Siro pitch as the rain continues to fall. The players need no second invitation to plow into each other, and the game is broken up for a spell after a few hefty fouls.
Birsa has a shot blocked. Milan just keep coming. We have not seen a damn thing from Lazio so far. Quite frankly, the visitors have struggled to keep the ball out of their own half.
Kaka is the next candidate to have a whack at Marchetti's goal. The playmaker cuts in with worrying ease from the left flank onto his stronger right foot, but his attempt is right at the Lazio keeper, who does not flinch.
Lazio letting Milan walk all over them in a terrible start to the game. Montolivo angles in a tasty cross from the right, and both Balotelli and Muntari are licking their chops in the box. But the pair get in a tangle with the Lazio defence, everyone falls down in a heap, and the ball sails out to the opposite side. Impossible to call an infraction in that mess.
What were Lazio doing?!?!?! Ledesma leaves a cavernous gap in the middle, which Balotelli sprints head first into. With a clear line of sight on Marchetti between the sticks, he lets fly from 25 yards, but the Lazio custodian tidies up that effort with a strong save to his right!
Here we go, Milan kick us off. The Rossoneri are in their familiar red, black and white strip, while Lazio don their yellow and black away kit.
The teams are out, and we're just about ready to make the plunge...
One man who would benefit from a big game tonight is Mario Balotelli. The forward has a decent goal return of three Serie A goals in five games, but he was slaughtered for his role as a veritable passenger against Parma, and the rumour mill has already begun plotting his reunion with Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge. Robinho and Alessandro Matri haven't exactly staked a cast-iron claim to displace Balotelli, but with Giampaolo Pazzini and Stephan El Shaarawy due to return from injury, the ex-Inter hitman's starting berth is far from guaranteed, €20 million fee or not.
For Lazio, goals have been as rare as a smile in a traffic jam, with only one other side in the top half of the table notching a worse tally than their record of 14 strikes in nine games. Milan meanwhile have been tragic on the road, taking only two points from five away games - including a 3-2 loss to Parma at the death over the weekend.
Both teams are staring down the barrel of double-digit gaps to Serie A frontrunners Roma. Vladimir Petkovic has already been forced to deflect questions about his future, while Massimiliano Allegri has sprouted a new forehead line or two during his annual ritual on the early season chopping block.
LAZIO (4-2-3-1): Marchetti; Cavanda, Ciani, Cana, Radu; Gonzalez, Ledesma; Hernanes, Candreva, Perea; Klose.
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Gabriel; Abate, Zaccardo, Zapata, De Sciglio; Montolivo, De Jong, Muntari; Birsa, Kaka; Balotelli.
First, our starting lineups for tonight's game.
Greetings everyone, and welcome to another round of Serie A action, where Milan take on Lazio at San Siro. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your designated scribe for this evening's action.
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