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Milan's miserable form continues, as an inspirational Antonio Cassano led Sampdoria to a 2-1 win at the Stadio Ferraris.

Sampdoria 2-1 Milan

Milan came into this game desperately needing to win after their European debacle in midweek when they had crashed out of the UEFA Cup at the hands of Werder Bremen. Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti had a long injury list to deal with, as Gattuso, Borriello, Kalac, Mattioni, Kakà, Nesta, Ambrosini, and Ronaldinho were all out. Clarence Seedorf played in behind Alexandre Pato in attack.

Sampdoria had also been eliminated from the Champions League's ugly sister competition on Thursday, and they were in need of Serie A points as they tried to improve their desperately disappointing 14th position. The Blucerchiati were minus the services of Krsticic and Delvecchio, while Claudio Bellucci was suspended, meaning that Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano led the frontline.

First Half

Sampdoria had the first attempt of the game, as Angelo Palmbo fired a long-range free kick well over.

There was a flashpoint on seven minutes when Cassano stopped in the centre circle after Pato had gone down injured, only to see Mathieu Flamini take the ball off him, and supply Seedorf who forced Luca Castellazzi into a low save. Cassano and the Samp players were furious with Flamini and Seedorf for continuing play, and it took a while for Fantantonio to calm down.

Cassano cut in from the left and skipped past Luca Antonini and Flamini before lashing wide, and the forward then brought out a top-class save from Abbiati, who flew to his right to push away a 20-yard free kick.

Milan were struggling in the early stages, but they were gifted a chance on 23 minutes following sloppy Samp defending, but Pato didn't connect properly with his backheeled shot. The Brazilian was his team's liveliest player, and he then turned and shot wide from 30 yards.

The away side slowly started to get into the game, and they had their best chance of the afternoon so far on 28 minutes, as Mathieu Flamini fired inches wide of the post from just outside the area.

However, it was Sampdoria who took the lead on 32 minutes, and inevitably Cassano grabbed the goal, heading home at the back post from a right wing corner. Abbiati protested angrily to the referee and assistant, claiming that the ball had not gone over the line, but replays appeared to suggest that the officials just made the correct decision.

Milan tried to react, and Seedorf hit an angled shot wide of the post, while Lucchini made a crucial intervention as Pato lined up a bicycle kick.

Second Half

Ancelotti made an attacking change at half time, introducing forward Pippo Inzaghi for defender Luca Antonini, and switching to a 4-3-1-2.

However, Sampdoria could have doubled their lead as Pazzini raced through on goal, but Zambrotta tracked back to make a fantastic recovery tackle.

On 50 minutes, the home side did indeed make it two. Pazzini latched onto Cassano's inspired pass, put Bonera on his backside, before thundering the ball past Abbiati and into the top corner.

Milan were shellshocked, and Castellazzi comefortable dealt with tame efforts from Flamini and Inzaghi.

Cassano was absolutely unplayable at times, and was having one of those world-beater afternoons. 'Talentino' left Senderos for dead, but his cut-back was behind Pazzini otherwise it could have been three. Cassano was pulling out all the tricks, and the crowd roared in delight after a fantastic back-heel sent Stankevicius away down the right.

Seedorf fired off target, but as the game moved into the last 20 minutes, Milan almost appeared resigned to defeat.

Sampdoria continued to look for a third goal, and Palombo curled over the wall and into the arms of Abbiati.

However, with 10 minutes to go, Milan received a lifeline as they found a goal. Substitute Giuseppe Favalli crossed from the left, and Pato bulleted home a header from eight yards.

A minute later, Milan thought they had found an incredible equaliser as another substitute flicked a header past Castellazzi, but the goal was chalked off for offside. The Rossoneri were throwing everyone forward now, and Inzaghi also saw a shot blocked.

Cassano was substituted to a standing ovation in the closing minutes, and embraced Ancelotti as he went off.

Inzaghi volleyed wide from Pato's pass, but Sampdoria held on for a crucial win. The pressure is now piled on Ancelotti, who may struggle to keep his job following this defeat.

Teams

Sampdoria: Castellazzi, Raggi (Gastaldello 70), Lucchini, Accardi, Stankevicius (Padalino 83), Sammarco, Franceschini, Palombo, Pieri, Pazzini, Cassano (Marilungo 87)

Milan: Abbiati, Antonini (Inzaghi 46), Bonera, Senderos, Zambrotta, Beckham (Emerson 69), Pirlo, Flamini, Jankulovski (Favalli 55), Seedorf, Pato

Goals

Cassano 32 (S)
Pazzini 50 (S)
Pato 80 (M)

Anthony Sormani

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