SERIE A: Milan ease pressure with win over leaders


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - Page 18

AC Milan eased the pressure on coach Massimiliano Allegri with a 1-0 win over Juventus on Sunday, inflicting the Serie A leaders’ second defeat in quick succession thanks to a controversial Robhino penalty.

The loss came three weeks after Juve’s 49-match unbeaten run ended with a 3-1 home defeat by archrivals Inter.

For AC Milan, the win completed an impressive week in which the Rossoneri also sealed qualification for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.

Former Milan striker Marco van Basten was a guest of honor at the San Siro, though not, according to club vice president Adriano Galliani, with an eye on replacing Allegri.

An unconventional front three of Robinho, Stephan El Shaarawy and Kevin-Prince Boateng, pushed up from midfield, combined well to inspire Milan’s win.

Juventus found it difficult to deal with Milan’s pressing play and went behind just before the half-hour mark when the ball appeared to strike Mauricio Isla’s outstretched arm from Antonio Nocerino’s header, although replays suggested it hit the Chilean’s body.

Robinho stepped up to score, despite goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon getting both hands to the ball.

The visitors were slow to react, with too many misplaced passes and errors allowing Milan to control the game.

Juve began to turn up the pressure later in the second half, with substitute Sebastian Giovinco, on for Fabio Quagliarella, going close with an overhead-kick from Simone Padoin’s cross in the 62nd minute, but their lack of physical presence up front made life easier for the Milan back four.

The Italian champions attacked in numbers as the game entered its final stages, but Milan were increasingly happy to defend deep and try to catch Juve on the break.

It was a risky strategy and the home side lived dangerously at times, but worked hard to take all three points, putting a dent in Juve’s title challenge and providing a possible platform for Milan to build on in the run-up to the winter break.

Juventus assistant coach Angelo Alessio bemoaned his side’s failure to match Milan’s work-rate.

“When we don’t play as a team, we suffer and we lose, like we did tonight,” Alessio told Sky Italia.

Earlier, Mounir El Hamdaoui came off the bench to score a late equalizer for ACF Fiorentina at Torino, with a 2-2 draw enough to lift the Tuscans up to joint second in the table.

The hosts took the lead five minutes from the break after Alessio Cerci got himself on the end of a low Danilo D’Ambrosio cross, with Riccardo Meggiorini’s dummy fooling the Fiorentina defense.

Fiorentina came alive in the second half, but with talisman Stevan Jovetic still out injured and Luca Toni in the treatment room following a nasty collision with defender Kamil Glik, Torino were able to weather the storm.

The visitors drew level from the penalty-spot in the 75th minute after D’Ambrosio upended Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, with Gonzalo Rodriguez converting.

However, just a minute later Torino were back in front, Valter Birsa’s cross tricking everyone and ending up in the net.

Former Ajax striker El Hamdaoui equalized with pretty much his first touch of the game, turning and shooting in one movement, hitting an angled shot past Jean-Francois Gillet.

“It was a good game, very open. Both teams gave it a go and deserved to win. On balance it was the right result,” Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella told RAI television. “I was a little happier in the second half than the first. We reacted with a maturity, with personality and quality.”

Elsewhere, Mattia Destro scored only his second goal for AS Roma since arriving from Genoa during the close season, helping the Giallorossi to a 1-0 victory at Delfino Pescara 1936, a win that takes the capital club up to joint fifth.

The big shock of the day was Genoa’s 1-0 win at Atalanta BC thanks to Andrea Bertolacci’s first-half goal for the lowly visitors. Fellow strugglers AC Siena drew 0-0 at AC Chievo Verona.

UC Sampdoria continued their revival with a useful 1-0 win at home to Bologna, Andrea Poli netting the winner.