AC Milan despite winning 2-1, did not look their best last night. Content to sit back and play long balls in the hopes of springing Inzaghi, Milan conceded possession to Liverpool far more than they should have. Overall, the game was a scrappy affair with only flashes of quality from either side.
Liverpool’s decision to go 4-4-1-1 made sense in some regards as it bolstered the numbers in midfield and gave them width (at least on the right). What was lacking was a target in the middle for Pennant’s crosses. Gerrard is unaccustomed to that role and snatched wildly at the couple of chances that fell his way. Selecting Zenden as the wide-left player seemed a mistake from the get-go and that soon proved itself true as he struggled against Oddo whether because of an injury or conditioning reasons. For all the acclaim Benitez gets for his “tactical nous”, this one example of him getting things wrong.
Dida – 6
Not tested much but made a couple of key saves when called upon. Was fortunate that no one was on-hand to cash in the spilled rebound of Pennant’s low drive in the first half.
Oddo – 7
Very capable job defensively against both Zenden and Kewell. Made a number of strong supporting runs on the counter-attack.
Nesta – 8
Maldini – 8
Another strong performance from this experienced centre-back pairing. While they were not flawless, their calm presence and excellent positional play kept the Liverpool attack on the fringes until very late.
Jankulovski – 5
One of the poorer showings I’ve seen from him. AC were fortunate to escape the first half without conceding. Pennant had the measure of him and there appeared to be a tactical shift in the second half to push Seedorf back into a more covering role in front of the Czech right-back.
Prilo – 6
With a packed midfield he had little time or space to create but did take the free-kick that led to Inzaghi’s first goal.
Gattuso – 5
For all the hype about him before the match and in general, I don’t find much good to say about his on-field performances. He did a good job hurrying the Liverpool midfield but his passing was errant and he appeared frustrated when he fouled Alonso in the first half.
Ambrosini: 6 – Did he play? OK, it wasn’t that bad but in 4-5 pages of notes I made during the match, his name barely registers. Made little impact on the game despite a good work-rate.
Seedorf – 6.5 – Not as influential on the attacking side of the ball but assisted in breaking up Liverpool’s attacking play down the flank well. Assisted Jankulovski in closing down the right flank runs of Pennant in the second half. Kaka- 7 Liverpool did well keeping him under wraps for the most part but he was still a key contributor to both goals. Alonso fouled him on the edge of the box to create the free-kick for the first goal and his lovely weighted through-ball set up Inzaghi for the eventual winner.