Mon, Mar 14, 2011 - Page 19 News List

AC Milan stutter against lowly Bari

GAME OF EXTREMES:Bottom-of-the-table Bari held the league leaders, meaning Milan squandered an opportunity to capitalize on second-place Inter’s draw on Friday


Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off as Serie A leaders AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at home to rock--bottom Bari yesterday.

Antonio Cassano scored a late equalizer for the hosts when they were already down to 10 men to cancel out Gergely Rudolf’s first-half opener.

It meant Milan failed to -capitalize on second-placed Inter’s 1-1 draw at Brescia on Friday night, meaning they stay five points clear at the top.

For Bari, who remain 12 points from safety, it was a welcome boost in an otherwise dire season.

However, they will be kicking themselves for failing to hold onto their lead with a numerical advantage.

In a lively opening Milan looked full of verve as Ignazio Abate burst down the right and crossed for Robinho at the near post, but his seventh-minute header was well off target.

Kamil Glik then threw himself in front of a Robinho shot after determined work from Ibrahimovic down the right before Gennaro Gattuso dragged an effort wide.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic as Simone Bentivoglio had a shot deflected just wide, while a Sergio Almiron header from the resulting corner was too weak and easy for goalkeeper Christian Abbiati. Ibrahimovic stung Bari shot--stopper Francois Gillet’s hands with a fierce 20-yard free-kick on 27 minutes.

However, the basement--sitters stunned their illustrious hosts six minutes before the break as Almiron took a quick free-kick, playing the ball past Milan’s defensive wall for Rudolf to run onto and shoot across Abbiati.

Milan came out for the second period with extra determination and Robinho soon had the ball in then net only for it to be chalked off as he’d strayed beyond the last defender.

Gillet then got down well to keep out a low shot from the Brazilian.

Full-back Luca Antonini wasted a glorious opportunity when teed up by busy substitute Urby -Emanuelson, missing the ball completely with the goal gaping.

Ibrahimovic had the ball in the net on the hour mark, but that too was disallowed as he controlled it with his arm.

He also dragged a shot wide as Milan upped the pressure, but the big Swede then lost his head and was sent off for petulantly slapping Nicola Belmonte in the ribs.

Bari wasted two gilt-edge opportunities to close out the game through Almiron and Erik Huseklepp.

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