Fiorentina 1-2 AC Milan: Late Pato Winner Takes Rossoneri To Second

Milan close the gap on Inter to just four points.....

Milan have leapfrogged Roma into second place and have closed the gap on leaders Inter as they defeated Fiorentina 2-1 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence in on Wednesday evening.

Former Rossoneri striker Alberto Gilardino gave the Viola the lead in the 14th minute but second half substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar equalised for the visitors with nine minutes of normal time remaining. Then in the final minute of injury time, Alexandre Pato popped up with the winner to take Milan to second spot in the table and within just four points of leaders Inter.

Fiorentina were chasing their second successive win in Serie A and coach Cesare Prandelli named a very attacking lineup with Alberto Gilardino as the main striker supported by Juan Manuel Vargas, Stevan Jovetic and Marco Marchionni from the midfield. Milan commenced in their typical 4-3-3 formation with Ronaldinho and Pato playing on either side of Marco Borriello in a three-man attack.

Milan made most of the running in the opening exchanges and looked the more enthusiastic side in the first five minutes of the match but soon Fiorentina started to dominate proceedings.

In the eighth minute Vargas received the ball on his chest, broke into the Milan penalty area and smashed a volley into the side netting only to discover that he had been flagged offside. Three minutes later Jovetic blasted a first-time volley wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Fiorentina eventually broke the deadlock in the 14th minute when former Milan striker Alberto Gilardino struck. Jovetic was the architect of the move and his neat pass found Gilardino just five yards from the Rossoneri goal and the 27-year-old made no mistake in making it 1-0 to the Viola.

Six minutes later Fiorentina could have doubled their lead when Jovetic wriggled himself away from a number of Milan players in the middle of the park and the ball subsequently found Riccardo Montolivo, whose long range effort was easily claimed by Christian Abbiati between the Milan sticks.

In the 27th minute the hosts again crafted a chance when they ripped apart Milan's backline with great passes. The ball threaded its way to Gilardino, whose shot from close range was blocked.

A minute after the half hour mark, Milan were forced into making a substitution as Mathieu Flamini came on for the injured Massimo Ambrosini. However, that didn't change the run of play as a couple of minutes later Vargas went for the audacious from inside the Rossoneri penalty box; but his attempt was way off-target.

On the stroke of half-time Leonardo's side earned a free kick when Ronaldinho was brought down again. The free kick eventually found its way to Flamini, but the former Arsenal midfielder's low drive went just wide of the Fiorentina goal.

A couple of minutes into the restart Fiorentina had a penalty appeal turned down. Gilardino was seemingly brought down by Milan central defender Thiago Silva inside the penalty area but the referee deemed that there wasn't any infringement.

Five minutes later Vargas attempted a shot from about 20 yards out from the left side of the penalty area but Abbiati made a good save. A couple of minutes later Marchionni went close when he ran with the ball at the Milan's defence, but his left footed shot from the edge of the penalty box went wide.

But the visitors created their first chance of the first half just moments later when Ronaldinho discerned Pato with a long ball that the Brazilian youngster agonisingly failed to keep on target from just seven yards. A minute later the former Barcelona playmaker found Pato on the right and the Brazilian youngster whipped in a cross across the face of the Fiorentina goal but Andrea Pirlo fumbled with it and the danger was eventually cleared.

Four minutes after the hour mark Gattuso committed a foul on Marchionni on the edge of the penalty area. Montolivo took it but he could only hit it straight at the Italian, who cleared the danger with ease.

Six minutes later Fiorentina could have gone 2-0 up had Keirrison not fumbled with the ball. Marchionni sent in a cross that reached the second half substitute but Keirrison lost his footing just as he was about to shoot.

Then in the 74th minute Marchionni came close when he found himself unmarked at the end of a cross-shot from Vargas from just yards from the Milan goal but his attempt went off-target. It wouldn't have mattered had the ball gone in as the referee had blown the whistle for offside.

Eventually Milan did restore parity and it was the second half substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who did so in the 81st minute The Dutchman and Ronaldinho played a one-two near the Fiorentina penalty area and then the Brazilian slipped the former Real Madrid striker a pass with the goal at his mercy and 'The Hunter' made no mistake in netting his sixth goal of the season.

Fiorentina, though, had two good chances in the final five minutes of normal time. First, Montolivo fell to ground inside the Milan penalty area when he was at a striking range after a challenge from Thiago Silva but the appeals for handball were dismissed. Then, two minutes later Vargas attempted a long range curling effort on goal that seemed headed for the top corner only for Abbiati to intervene with a terrific save.

Fiorentina controlled possession and territory for the remainder of the game but the winner fell to Milan in the final minute of injury time. A quick Milan move saw Ronaldinho with the ball inside the Fiorentina penalty area and his audacious assist was volleyed home by Pato from close range. That was virtually the final kick of the match as Milan won 2-1 to break Fiorentina's hearts.

Udinese 2-1 Cagliari

Udinese recalled their old coach Pasquale Marino and the Bianconeri finally won in Serie A as they defeated Cagliari 2-1 in Udine.

The visitors were looking to increase their chances of Champions League qualification and knew that a win on Wednesday evening would take them level on points with four-placed Juventus.

The Sardinians scored as early as the second minute through
Jeda. Davide Biondini found himself with the ball following a corner and he crafted in a cross that was headed home from the centre of the Udinese box by Jeda. Although both sides continued to create chances after that in the remainder of the half and made the game entertaining, no more goals were scored in the first 45 minutes.

Udinese equalised in the 68th minute when Alexis Sanchez found the back of the net from the centre of the box. A couple of minutes later the Udine-based side scored their second when Antonio Di Natale pounced on Mauricio Isla's cross to score with his left foot from the centre of the box. The hosts held on for a morale-boosting 2-1 win at home.