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May 5, 2013
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: A. Damato
• Attendance: 43000
M. Balotelli 84'
That's it from me this afternoon! Thanks to all of you who joined me and got involved this afternoon. Make sure to stick around Goal for reaction and ratings from today's game. Until next time, from me, Harry Slavin, goodbye!
FULL-TIME: MILAN 1-0 TORINO. That is a big win for Milan, and one that didn't look like coming for large parts of the game. Balotelli's late goal means that there is now a four-point gap between the Rossoneri and their nearest rivals Fiorentina. With only three games left, that's a pretty strong position.
90' + 3'
Into the final minute. Milan have a free kick centre of goal and around 30-yards out. Balotelli fancies it but smashes it way over the bar.
90' + 1'
Ooh, Meggiorini goes close. The replacement striker does well to dispossess Abate at the back and he cracks and effort towards goal, hoping to catch out Abbiati but it sails just wide.
We are in to three minutes of added time here. Is there any late drama to be had?
You can sense a huge weight has just been lifted off of Milan shoulders. They're keeping the ball with ease now. Torino on the other hand have just been robbed of what would have been a very welcome point in their battle with relegation. Body blow.
Torino have around 5 minutes left to turn this around. They've created some good chances so far but haven't been able to take them. Do they have one more opportunity left in them?
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
Assist Philippe Mexes
Paulo Vitor Barreto
Goal Mario Balotelli
GOOOAAAALLLL!!!! FINALLY MILAN HAVE THE BREAKTHROUGH!!! I guess this is why you never make a change at corners. The initial cross is cleared but it isn't properly dealt with and when the ball is swung back in Mexes heads across goal for an unmarked Balotelli to tap home. They were queuing up to stick that home. Tough on Torino. Balotelli is booked for his celebration as well as he takes his shirt off.
Hmm. It's a corner to Milan but Torino are now making a double substitution, ignoring the old idea of never making a change at a corner. Will that prove a mistake?
Valerio Di Cesare
Chance almost immeditaley for Robinho! Balotelli takes the ball on chest inside the Torino area and falls for the Brazilian. He take the long way to goal, trying to get outside Ogbonna before firing low towards goal. Gillet is alert though and gets down to tip the ball behind at his near post.
Last role of the dice from Allegri as he throws on Robinho for the final 10 minutes. Can the little Brazilian conjure up some samba magic?
M'Baye Niang takes over corner kick duties but can't get it past the first man. This has been an extremely frustrating afternoon for Milan. Allegri is on the touchline begging for calm from his team.
What is Di Cesare doing there!? Vives plays the centre-back through on goal after a box-to-box run but he finishes like a true defender and scuffs his effort wide of the target.
Mario Santana comes on for Brighi. The midfielder scored in Torino's 4-2 defeat to Milan earlier in the season. Any goal from him today would surely earn his side at least a point now.
Yellow Card Kevin-Prince Boateng
Boateng is now in the book for a petulant foul on Brighi. It seems like the forward has a bit of a kick out at the Torino man. Silly stuff.
Yellow Card Sulley Muntari
Muntari becomes the second player in Damato's notebook this afternoon after he cashes Basha with a sliding tackle. Not the most brutal of tackles but it's probably for an accumulation of fouls form the Ghanian this afternoon.
Pazzini is penalised for a foul in the Torino area and looks pretty confused. He doesn't know what it was for, and if I'm honest, neither do I.
Cerci has been chasing everything this afternoon to try and support Barreto but the latest ball forward looks like just a chase too far as the Italian throws his arms in the air. He looks knackered.
Pazzini scored with two rebounds last week and he almost adds a third this week! Balotelli hits a speculative effort from a distance but the Belgian keeper Gillet cannot hold onto it. Pazzini is onto it quick as a flash but the keeper recovers to regain possession. Close.
Another big chance for Barreto!! I have no idea how this one has stayed out! The visitors break and Cerci's cross finds the Brazilian in the middle. He connects with a flying volley but it seems to go straight into the ground and bounces up and over Abbiati's bar. Big let-off for the hosts.
Milan looked to have pulled Torino apart from the first time this half as Pazzini plays in Boateng but his cross for Balotelli is cut out by Ogbonna. He's had a sterling game at the back this afternoon.
Muntari tees himself up from outside the area again, he does love a shot this boy. This time he gets it horribly wrong and skies his effort high into the Giuseppe Meazza stands. Awful effort.
Half an hour left then for either team to ignite this game. Kevin Constant almost does so with some fancy footwork and a cross with the outside of his boot to the far post, but it's just beyond the outstretched Pazzini.
Pazzini scored two when he came off of the bench last weekend to turn the game around against Catania. Allegri will be hoping for a similar impact from the centre forward this afternoon.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Pazzini does indeed come on and off comes the rather subdued El Shaarawy. He has had another disappointing afternoon for the Rossoneri. Just what has gone wrong for the young Italian this second half of the season?
Milan looks like they're about to make a change as last weekend's hero Pazzini waits on the sidelines.
Basha thinks he has won the ball back in the Milan penalty area but he's thwarted by the referees whistle as he is penalised for a foul on Zapata.
Gillet comes out and flaps at a deep cross from the right. He manages to reach the ball but his punch only goes as far as El Shaarawy. Luckily for the Belgian the Milan forward cannot quite bring the ball under control and Torino escape.
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
First booking of the game and it is for Philippe Mexes for handball. It looks a little harsh and the Frenchman looks perplexed. Damato is unmoved though.
An early foray into the Torino area by Boateng and he gets to the bye-line before trying to force the ball across goal. There's too much force on the ball though and it misses everybody.
Everyone is back in place for the second half and we are back underway courtesy of Torino.
I mentioned earlier that Torino haven't beaten Milan at San Siro since 1985 in Serie A, however they did manage a 1-0 victory in Milan in 2000 in the Coppa Italia.
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding Allegri and his future at Milan over the last few weeks with plenty suggesting that the coach is being lined up for a move to the capital to take charge of Roma. @indianzzurri thinks that the Rossoneri cannot afford to let this happen, tweeting: #ACMILAN must persist with Allegri, whatever position they finish this season. Who all agrees with him?
Milan will be a little concerned by that first half display. They have a golden opportunity today to stamp their authority all over that final Champions League spot but so far their performance has been somewhat of a whimper; disjointed, slow and careless. Not the characteristics of the performance Massimiliano Allegri had in mind when he sent them out for the opening half I'm sure.
HALF-TIME: MILAN 0-0 TORINO. The deadlock remains firmly sealed at the halfway point in this one then. Champions League chasing Milan may be up against a struggling outfit in Torino, but the visitors have definitely had the better chances and really should be in front.
One last opportunity for Milan perhaps at the end of the half? El Shaarawy wriggles his way into the box but cannot get his cross in. We'll have one minute of added time before the break.
Fantastic persistence from Boateng gives Milan a good chance at the end of the half. The midfielder hassles and harries the Torino back line and wins back the ball on the edge of the box. After a quick exchange with Muntari he fizzes a cross along the box but it's just too far away from Balotelli at the back post.
Nasty coming together between the Milan's centre-back pair. Mexes looks to catch Zapata in the face with his boot after both went for the same ball. Zapata looks okay though after a bit of TLC from his defensive partner.
Chances at either end once more. Cerci fires into the side netting from an acute angle for the visitors while Gillet does well to keep out Boateng's daisy-cutter at the other end.
More of you getting involved on twitter and still concern about Milan's current performance: @okwyfifa:This is test of character for Allegri and his troops,one he must win,for the club,for his future and for his critics. @indianazzuri: Nervy times for #ACMilan fans
El Shaarawy works some space and hits a shot which is just deflected behind by Giuseppe Vives. Balotelli swings in the resulting corner and Mexes rises high at the back post but nods agonizingly wide. Better from the Rossoneri.
There's a brief stop in play as Basha and Boateng clash heads in the Torino area. The Torino midfielder looks to have come off worse but both are up and about again soon after.
Flamini has scored in all three of his last matches for Milan and he's almost in again but can't quite get the ball under control when he makes his way into the box. That probably translates as a chance for Milan in this half. Worrying.
Torino now have the confidence to build some decent attacks from the back. They try to work it down the right flank but Masiello is in an offside position.
Ventura's side have certainly settled after creating those early chances. Milan aren't finding the space they were able to early on.
There is already a few nerves filtering through from Milan fans at home. Thomas Otubelu has got in touch to say "hope Milan won't blow it." I'm sure you're not the only one Thomas. Keep your thoughts coming in. Just use @harryslavin on twitter or the chat box in the match centre.
A few groans of discontent around the stadium, firstly for Balotelli as he miscontrols a pass in the middle of the pitch. Moments later Boateng mistimes a free header inside the 6-yard-box when completely unmarked. Wasteful from the ex-Portsmouth man.
Torino are someway down the table at the moment but they're playing more like the Champions League chasing side for the moment. It's just Milan's luck that they can't finish like one.
Another chance for the visitors! Basha makes a great run inside the Milan area and is picked out in the six-yard-box. The midfielder tries to whip a ball across the face of goal but it has too much on it for Barreto to get anything on it.
It was actually Zapata who missed the interception from Migjen Basha's pass but luckily for him Milan weren't made to pay for it. Giampiero Ventura's side have probably had the best two chances of the match so far and they should really be ahead.
Oh Barretto how have you not put Torino in front! The Brazilian is clean through as Mexes fails to cut out a through-ball but the striker has almost too much time to think about his finish and ends up putting it straight at Abbiati. Poor, poor finish from the No. 10.
Muntari can smell a goal this afternoon and he has another pop at Gillet's goal, this time firing over from just outside the area.
I Granata are enjoying their first spell of possession, so much so they want everyone to get in on the act as the ball makes its way from the half way line all the way back to the keeper Gillet.
Twice in two minutes the Rossoneri have a chance to knock a set-piece into the Torino area but twice the opportunity goes begging thanks to poor deliveries. Nocerino I'm looking at you here.
A promising opening ten minutes as both sides are creating decent opportunities. Milan have the upper hand as you'd expect but Torino have shown they can trouble their hosts on the counter.
Sulley Muntari lets fly with an absolute ripper that skids across the San Siro turf. Gillet can only parry it out as far as Balotelli but the Belgian keeper redeems himself by keeping out Super Mario to pull off a fine double save.
Some neat play by Milan sees Boateng pick out El Shaarawy on the edge of the area but his shot is blocked by Vives behind for a corner. The hosts swing in a couple of corners in quick succession but the Torino defends stands firm for now.
Mario Balotelli tries to respond up the other end for the hosts. He wins a free kick on the edge of the area and takes it himself but smashes his effort straight into the wall.
Big chance early on for Torino! Alessio Cerci is played through down the right and is given a free run at goal. He tries to bend the ball beyond Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal but it's too close to the shot-stopper and he holds on to the shot.
Referee Antonio Damato blows his whistle for the first time and we are up and running.
The teams are out at San Siro. Torino haven't won here against the red-and-black half of Milan since 1985. None of the Rossoneri's front three were even born at that time.
Torino Meanwhile have named a pretty defensive line up for their trip to the Giuseppe Meazza, starting with just one striker and five recognised defenders. Will it be enough to cope with Milan's three-pronged attack?
So Milan have a couple of changes from the side that came from behind to beat Catania last weekend. Back in come Abbiati, Zapata and Constant for Amelia, Bonera and De Sciglio. Muntari replaces the injured Montolivo in midfield.
TORINO: (4-2-3-1) Gillet; Darmian, Rodriguez, Di Cesare, Ogbonna; Masiello, Basha; Vives, Brighi; Cerci; Barreto.
MILAN: (4-3-3) Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Flamini, Muntari, Nocerino; Boateng, Balotelli, El Shaarawy.
We are about 10 minutes from kick-off so hows about some team news? We'll start with the hosts.
So can the Rossoneri take advantage of Fiorentia's stumble? As ever, I want to hear from you guys. Any thoughts, opinions or predictions about today's match then let me have 'em. You can either use the chat box in the match centre or tweet directly to me, Just use @harryslavin.
Milan have been handed a huge boost ahead of today's match after their closest rivals for 3rd spot slipped up last night. Fiorentina went down to Roma at the hands of a late Osvaldo header. That means a victory for Massimiliano Allegri's side would put them firmly in the driver's seat for Italy's last Champions League spot.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal's coverage from San Siro as AC Milan play host to Torino in Serie A. I'm Harry Slavin and I'll be with you through every step of the action.
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