Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Beckham makes Milan debut in Dubai friendly

AP , DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

David Beckham failed to make much of an impact on his debut for AC Milan on Tuesday, exiting at halftime before the Italian powerhouse beat Hamburg 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.

The former England captain, who is on a three-month loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy, was greeted by a huge ovation from the crowd ahead of the friendly and displayed a few good touches with his famous right foot. Playing in a largely defensive role in midfield, Beckham provided a steady performance before being replaced by Mathieu Flamini after a scoreless first half.

“It was a great atmosphere here today, felt just like when I was at [Manchester] United, they had families here sitting with the kids and it brings back memories,” Beckham said. “It was exciting for me. Penalties aren’t the best way to win a game, but I’m glad that we won. AC Milan works very hard and I love working hard.”

Ronaldinho gave Milan the lead from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute, but Collin Benjamin poked in from close range to make it 1-1 five minutes later and neither team scored again in regulation.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said he substituted Beckham because of a lack of match fitness.

“I think 90 minutes would have been too much for him because he hasn’t played for over two months,” Ancelotti said. “Beckham is obviously not playing at his best because of the absence from competitive action, but this last week was very good for him and I’m sure he can be better ... He is tactically a sound player and he plays for the team and was always making himself available during the match.”

The 33-year-old Beckham’s only mistake came on a back pass to Paolo Maldini that was intercepted by Hamburg’s Ivica Olic, who had only goalkeeper Dida to beat before being brought down by Maldini.

Beckham had a chance to score on 39th-minute free kick, but his effort was headed away by the Hamburg wall.

Hamburg’s Mladen Petric could have given his team a win, but his unmarked header in the 85th was off target.

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