By Petar Todorovski
AC Milan’s attacking duo Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho collected goal and assist each to maintain the form that brings titles. Rossonerri struggled to break the though hosts in the first half, but in the second the super individuals took the responsibility in their own hands and the result was as expected, despite the sending off of the new acquisition Mark van Bommel.
The Dutch debuted in the first team alongside with youngster Alexander Merkel in the midfield, while Antinio Cassano was given a spot from the first minute despite Alexandre Pato’s great performance in Coppa Italia.
Ibrahimovic and Robinho could easily bring Milan advantage in the first minute of the match, when the Swede dribbled off two Catania players before passing to the Brazilian, but his effort finished wide.
Then the match continued with a lot of fight in the midfield and very rare opportunities for scoring. Ciro Capuano had the only serious attempt for Sicilians, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed to create better chance for Merkel in one occasion. After 45 minutes the result was 0-0.
On the break both coaches made substitutions. Ezequiel Carboni left the game because of injury. Allegri put Urby Emanuelson in, replacing inexperienced Merkel.
The second half didn’t begin as the table toppers wanted. They still couldn’t create clear chances and even lost one man. Mark van Bommel had to tackle against Pablo Ledesma in order to stop his force forward to the goal and the referee could do nothing but to give him second yellow card.
Nevertheless, Milan didn’t stop there. Te sending off seemed to have motivating influence to the team and began playing much better. That resulted with a lead only four minutes later. In 58th minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s free kick was saved by keeper Andujar, but Robinho’s strike from five yards was impossible to be stopped.
Diego Simeone tried to change things in order to get at least a point, but his players couldn’t do anything against the more motivated and, of course, the more quality opponent.
Then the match continued in unentertaining manner, until 85th minute when Ibrahimovic scored to secure a peaceful finish. He used the great pass by Robinho to net his 13th goal in this season.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri was pleased by the result and commented about his players. First, as every good coach, he backed van Bommel despite the red card. “These fouls are not generally sanctioned with a booking in Germany, but he is a generally aggressive player,” he said, and continued with praising Ibracadabra: “He is having the best season of his career in terms of intensity. Ibra has a great deal of enthusiasm, feels like a leader and also knows how to defend, which is the most important thing. If he tracks back, then everyone else follows suit.”
The Swede was also delighted after the match. “I was very happy about my goal, because being up 2-0 we didn’t have to worry in the final minutes of the game. We just had to concentrate on defending,” he admitted.
His team mate Robinho kept praising the team. “I’m very happy with the win tonight. It’s a difficult place to play especially against a team that defends well. We are first in the standings with 15 to 20 games left and we must continue to play well,” he told the press.
Milan is still first with four points ahead of competition. They lead the table with 47 points, while Napoli is positioned second with 43. Rossonerri’s next rival Lazio is seven points far, a gap that could be extended to ten points if Milan beat the shaky team on San Siro next weekend.