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April 29, 2012
• Stadio Comunale Artemio Franchi - Montepaschi Arena, Siena
Referee: C. Brighi
• Attendance: 14655
E. Bogdani 83'
A. Cassano 26'
Z. Ibrahimovic 29', 90'+
A. Nocerino 90'
Thanks for your contributions today. Look forward to more of the same next time on Goal.com. Cheerio for now.
The Serie A title race rolls into another week then. Juve hold the advantage, but this was a very clear indicator that Milan are ready to pounce should they slip up over the final three games.
As Ibrahimovic stroked that ball home, the final whistle was blown. This was a game Milan never looked like losing after they were gifted the first goal, but the Rossoneri will be encouraged by their return to free-scoring football. Special mention has to go to Antonio Cassano, who was at the heart of almost every telling attack today.
90' + 4'
Goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic
GOOALL MILAN! Clinical. Abbiati catches the corner easily, Milan break like lightning, Cassano carries the ball forward and rolls it across to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who side-foots calmly into the corner.
90' + 4'
Assist Antonio Cassano
90' + 2'
A final flourish from Siena, as Abbitati acrobatically tips Brienza's cross-come-shot out for a corner...
Goal Antonio Nocerino
GOOAALL MILAN! Emphatic stuff from Milan, who have wrapped this up. Antonio Nocerino pounces on a mistake in the Siena midfield, and twists Roberto Vitiello this way and that before firing a stupendous finish into the top corner. That's the midfielder's tenth league goal of the season. Milan are home and hosed.
We'll have four minutes of added time. Chances of this result changing are slim to none.
A good challenge by Mesbah stops Siena breaking away down the right. You sense the home side may be able to spring one final break before this one is done...
Milan's response to that goal has been to charge forward, and Ibrahimovic forces a corner. The visitors will want to keep the ball at this end of the field for these final five minutes.
Assist Mattia Destro
Goal Erjon Bogdani
GOOAAL SIENA! Could they? Siena have a goal back as Bogdani taps into an open goal, after Abbiati can only parry Destro's side-foot effort. Milan have been ultra-comfortable in this second half, but that may suddenly be about to change.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Milan make another change, with Kevin Prince Boateng withdrawn from the field. Stephan El Shaarawy is on to replace him.
Yellow Card Mark van Bommel
Mark van Bommel attempts to mount Brienza as the midfielder tries to get forward, and crushes his opponent to the ground. It's the most obvious booking you will ever see.
Milan, however, seem to have switched off, and a stationary Abate misses a standing Boateng with the simplest pass in the world.
Credit to Siena for showing some creativity in these late stages. Bogdani's attempted flick from Del Grosso's pass is too heavy for Destro, and then the latter attempts a spectacular curling effort from the corner of the area that misses the target by maybe 25 yards. It's nice to see, all the same.
A super ball forward from Del Grosso finds Bogdani through on goal, but the Albanian forward is just offside. Minutes after almost being sent off, Gattuso is now brought off for Milan, and is replaced by Antonio Nocerino.
I thought Gattuso was going to be sent off there, as the midfielder goes in two-footed on Brienza just outside the penalty area. Christian Brighi elects to deliver just a verbal warning, but in honesty, he should have been heading for an early bath there. Siena waste the free-kick and Milan are back in possession.
Milan are purring now, and it's nearly 3-0 as Ibrahimovic superbly flicks Boateng's cross into the path of Aquilani. Brkic is out very well to smother the shot.
Now Ibrahimovic wants a penalty, as he escapes inside the area before being felled. Didn't look to be a lot of contact in that one.
Nearly a moment of class to light up this second half, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic lets fly from 30 yards but sees his shot sail just wide. He looks like he can do it on demand at times.
Siena's final change sees the Albanian Erjon Bolzoni coming on to replace Paolo Grossi.
A good opportunity for Siena goes begging, as Luca Rossettini sends over a deep cross that Destro can't direct goalwards. His volley is straight into the turf, and up into the arms of Abbiati.
That, however, may be taking things too far. Gattuso flicks the ball up and plays keepy-ups by his own corner flag, seemingly taunting the Siena attack. He even wins a free-kick as a result. Full marks for impudence, there.
The atmosphere inside the stadium here is close to zero. The game is essentially dead as a contest, and is being played at walking pace. Milan may be looking to conserve energy in anticipation of tougher games to come.
Milan are introducing Alberto Aquilani to the game, and the Italian comes on to replace Sulley Muntari.
This is better from Siena, who are stringing some nice passes together across their midfield. There is a red and black wall on the edge of the box, however, which is looking rather impregnable.
Mark van Bommel loses the ball for what feels like the first time in ages, as the Dutch midfielder pings a cross-field ball out of play. Even then, he was fouled as he made contact.
Siena make a second change, with Marcelo Larrondo coming off to be replaced by Francesco Bolzoni. Not a whole lot of attacking intent there, but it may freshen things up all the same.
Milan are enjoying nearly all the possession here, with Ibrahimovic dropping to the halfway line to dictate the play. Not holding out much hope of a Siena comeback guys. Anyone feel different?
Welcome back Gennaro Gattuso. A typically rash sliding challenge on Paolo Grossi sees the midfielder booked. Nice to see him back to doing what he does best.
Yellow Card G. Gattuso
@Raybenzinoo Milan are gonna win 4-0 ...that's '4 sure'
It's pretty chaotic in there, and Destro is called for a foul as he jumps unfairly at the back post.
Destro is looking for a penalty as he is pulled down in the area, but I think the striker made a meal of his fall. Milan are temporarily at sixes and sevens, and play the ball out for a corner.
Finally a shot on target for Siena, but not a very good one. Mattia Destro turns on the edge of the box and shoots low towards goal, but the ball skids harmlessly into Abbitati's gloves.
The Rossoneri get us back underway.
The teams are on their way back out. Wonder if Milan will take their foot off the gas or go for a morale boosting win...
@m7mdBin5alid Milan should play in these black shorts more often. We score a lot in these - remember Arsenal?
So, with Milan and Juventus both leading 2-0, it's as you were in the Serie A title race. Any chance of either side dropping points from this position? Keep your tweets coming to @woodstome.
And there's the whistle. All in all, it's been very comfortable for Milan, who came through some dogged Siena defending to stroll into a 2-0 lead. They have Serbian keeper Zelijko Brkic to thank for the first goal, and the marking for the second was questionable, but ultimately the quality of the Milan attacks, particularly from the returning Antonio Cassano, has paid dividends.
We will have 2 minutes of added time at the end of this first half.
For those of you concerned about Milan's title chances, here's an update you won't enjoy. Juventus have taken a 2-goal lead at Novara, so show no signs of dropping precious points today.
...chance! Brienza's kick is easily cleared, but Siena come again, and Paolo Grossi plays the ball to an unmarked Destro, six yards out. However, the striker slips over as he swings at the ball, falls on his posterior, and Milan clear. Biggest chance by a mile for Siena, and it ends in embarrassment I'm afraid.
Here's a free-kick for Siena, fully 35 yards out...
Another super through-ball from Cassano finds Sulley Muntari inside the area, but the Ghanaian can't quite control the ball and Siena clear.
Yellow Card Cristiano Del Grosso
...Cassano's kick is well claimed by Brkic. Siena have settled somewhat since conceding those goals, and have regained their composure at the back. Milan still doing the majority of the attacking though.
Another booking for Siena, as Del Grosso pulls back Abate to stop the right-back streaking past him. Clear foul. Milan with a free-kick in a dangerous position...
Siena are harshly penalised for offside, as Destro skips past Yepes to meet a through ball from Alessandro Gazzi. He looked level with the centre back, but not according to the linesman.
Djamel Mesbah may want to change his studs at half time. The left-back is played into space by Ibrahimovic, but for the second time today, the left-back slips and falls over when he attempts to pick up pace.
Siena have been forced into a change, as Terzi limps off to be replaced by Matteo Contini. Looks like a muscle strain for the Robur defender.
That first goal has completely changed the feel of this game. Until the breakthrough, Siena had been pressing in all areas of the pitch, and with plenty of men back, were looking like they could frustrate Milan. With a comfortable lead now achieved, the home side are leaving gaps all over the field, and Milan are looking to take full advantage.
... which Milan make a mess of, as Cassano plays the ball short but is then called offside.
Very nearly 3-0, as Boateng sends in a piledriver from 25 yards that Brkic dives to tip behind. Corner...
Everyone's at it now. Gattuso makes a foray forward and plays a delightful one-two with Cassano, but the midfielder's pass is just a tad overhit. Milan looking like they could run riot here.
Assist Antonio Cassano
Goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic
GOOAALL MILAN! It's looking a bit easy now, as Siena's hard pressing is suddenly undone. Ibrahimovic takes a rolled pass from Cassano inside the area, shrugs off a challenge from Terzi and slams a rocket into the top corner. No chance for Brkic, and no chance for Siena in this game, you feel.
Assist Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Goal Antonio Cassano
GOOALL MILAN! Bit of a howler from Brkic I'm afraid. The keeper is out quickly to block a cross from Ibrahimovic, but spills the ball and Antonio Cassano is on hand to tap home. Milan finally make the pressure tell, and Cassano has a deserved goal.
Milan hit the crossbar, as Boateng wins a strong header at the back post which loops over keeper Zelijko Brkic, but the linesman's flag has already been raised.
A slightly heavier challenge on Ibrahimovic this time, as Brienza comes charging in to nick a bouncing ball from off the striker's toes. Needless to say, Ibra looks less than impressed with the decision.
Simone Vergassola makes Ibrahimovic look something of a fool, allowing the striker to make two step overs before stepping in with a crunching challenge. Milan's top scorer is a peripheral figure at present.
Cassano looks to be enjoying his return to the starting lineup, and is playing clever first-time balls with every touch. That's the kind of incessant creativity that Milan have lacked in recent weeks. They will be looking for more of the same.
Antonio Cassano links up well with Boateng inside the area, but as soon as a gap looks to have opened up, Siena throw four bodies in front of the striker, and the chance is gone. Good defending from the home side, who are sitting very deep here.
Yellow Card Claudio Terzi
In the build up to that shot, Claudio Terzi brought down Kevin Prince Boateng, and with the ball out of play, the defender is booked for the offence.
That might be the first time Zlatan Ibrahimovic has got into the penalty area today. The Swedish striker has been operating very deep in order to get on the ball so far, but latches on to a ball from Cassano and fires just wide with his left foot.
Destro thinks he's in after a shot from Del Grosso deflects up off his boot, but as he goes up for the header the whistle goes for offside.
Having stopped that attack, Bonera clearly fancies some attacking of his own, and sweeps a 70-yard pass out to Cassano on the right flank. The ball skips away off the turf, but you have to applaud the vision all the same.
A rare forward from defender Luca Rossettini, who covers a lot of ground and reaches the penalty area before Daniele Bonera stops him. I think it's fair to say Siena are playing without fear. And with their Serie A status long secured, why shouldn't they.
Milan create their first good opening, as Antonio Cassano plays a deft ball to Abate on the right. The full-back plays a dangerous ball across the six-yard box, but there is no red and black shirt attacking the ball. Sannino will be worried by the amount of space afforded to Abate there.
That's one of the stranger efforts you will see today. Marcelo Larrondo throws himself at a cross, but instead of using his head, the Argentinean attempts to punch the ball goalwards. Even then, he doesn't make contact. Quality forward play, that was not.
A dangerous attack from Siena, as Cristiano Del Grosso muscles his way past Abate and crosses from the left. The delivery is poor, however, and Milan clear easily.
That's nice from the hosts however. The lively Franco Brienza bursts forward and looks to link up with Mattia Destro, but the striker's layoff is too heavy and Milan can clear.
Milan have settled into an early rhythm, and are stroking the ball around that three-man midfield. A lot will depend on how well veterans van Bommel and Gattuso handle the pace.
Here we go. Siena get us underway, kicking from left to right.
Here come the teams. Winning ugly or winning well no longer matters to Milan, the only thing that matters is the three points. Nothing else will do, you feel. Your referee today is Christian Brighi.
The race for the Serie A title showed no signs of slowing in midweek, with both Milan and Juventus recording nervy 1-0 wins. Milan do seem to be feeling the pressure, and this typically free-scoring side have managed just one goal in each of their last five league games. But crucially, they have been able to grind out results more often than not. If they can maintain this trend, then anything is still possible between now and the end of the season.
MILAN LINEUP: (4-3-1-2) Abbiati; Abate, Bonera, Yepes, Mesbah; Gattuso, Van Bommel, Muntari; Boateng; Ibrahimovic, Cassano Bench: Amelia, Mexes, Antonini, Nocerino, Aquilani, Lopez, El Shaarawy
SIENA LINEUP: (4-4-2): Brkic; Vitiello, Rossettini, Terzi, Del Grosso; Grossi, Vergassola, Gazzi, Brienza; Larrondo, Destro Bench: Pegolo, Belmonte, Contini, Sestu, D’Agostino, Bolzoni, Bogdani
Here’s the teams for today’s match. Siena make three changes from the side that drew at Bologna in the midweek and have switched from a three to a four-man defence for this tie. Milan make five changes from the team that squeezed past Genoa. Antonio Cassano is back in the starting lineup, and replaces Stephan El Shaarawy in attack. Gennaro Gattuso and Djamel Mesbah are also given rare starts. Again, there is no place for either Clarence Seedorf or Robinho in Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
Milan, of course, have other ideas, and will point to the fact they have won each of their past six games with the Robur. But I fancy this will prove a sterner examination that the Rossoneri may be anticipating. Agree? Disagree? I’m open to all thoughts over on Twitter – hit me via @woodstome.
Serie A newcomers Siena have been a revelation this season, and under coach Giuseppe Sannino they find themselves sitting in the blissful tranquillity of mid-table. On their own patch, form has been strong, with only two defeats in ten league games. The likes of Lazio, Roma and Udinese have been put to the sword here in recent weeks. Pushovers, they are not.
Four games to go, three points to make up. That’s the equation that Milan need to solve if they are to catch league leaders Juventus. With their fate now out of their own hands, all the Rossoneri can do is win their games, and hope for the best. Achieving maximum points here, however, is very far from an easy task.
Well hello there. You’ve found your way to Goal.com, so you must be looking for some top footballing entertainment. Well look no further. I’m Tom Woods and I’ll be bringing you play-by-play commentary from Siena-Milan, as it unfolds here at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. A game of huge implications in the Serie A title race, I think you’ll agree.
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