Calling all Milanista, I got it wrong and admit it but what’s more important is understanding why. The key to today’s victory was manager Ancelotti getting back to basics. Take a look at the starting XI, leaving Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko on the bench was the right move.
Ancelotti would instead go with young Pato, Marco Borriello and a Pirlo-less midfield which supported the front two while providing breathing room with goals.
Midfielder Clarence Seedorf opened the scoring in the 8th minute after a failed attempted to lay the ball off to Kaka. Seedorf’s pass would ricochet off a Lazio defender back into his path and from ten yards out the big man made no mistake in burying it behind Lazio keeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.
Milan looked dangerous much of the first half but during the 25th minute, a lack in concentration on a threaded pass by Goran Pandev, allowed Lazio forward Mauro Zarate to slip the defensive line and gain a equalizer. Ten minutes later, defender Gianluca Zambrotta would restore the Milan lead with an absolute cracker from far out on the right. Travelling from right to left the ball curled across the front of goal ending up in the far side-netting, 2 -1 home side at the half.
Second half action saw Milan’s Brazilian crew, Alexandre Pato and Kaka, provide insurance goals three and four. Pato’s was an exceptional header well placed and away from the keeper’s reach. The young man would make way for Ronaldinho in the last quarter and there was one spot of magic when Ronaldinho partnered with Borriello in splitting the defense, and foiling the offside trap, with a well feed ball. Borriello open on goal struck low and hard but keeper Carrizo managed to block the shot.
Although Lazio had several excellent chances to draw closer, they could not capitalize on their opportunities. The visitors lost belief in any comeback and in my opinion it all vanished after Pato’s 48 minute header. The substitution of Pasquale Foggia for Mauri was a good move as the player created all kinds of problems for the Milan midfield with his runs forward but the decision to bring Foggia on was left too late by Lazio manager Delio Rossi.
Gattuso was back in the starting XI which was a surprise to me. His early return from injury will be good for the team but is it good for him? Jankulovski played a very physical game, I didn’t count the fouls but he did receive a yellow card and no chance of taking him off early with the limited bench. Brazilian international Kaka is returning to 100% fitness with his second start for the Rossoneri, his creative flair in the midfield has been sorely missed. Finally old-timer Ambrosini made several key plays in breaking up the Lazio attack and all in all the Milan midfield performed reasonably well without Andrea Pirlo. Time will tell if Ancelotti has found the right formula.
Milan: Abbiati; Zambrotta, Maldini, Kaladze, Jankulovski; Gattuso (Emerson 78), Ambrosini, Seedorf (Flamini 64); Kaka; Pato (Ronaldinho 71), Borriello
Lazio: Carrizo; Lichtsteiner, Siviglia, Rozenhal, Kolarov; Brocchi (De Silvestri 79), Ledesma, Matuzalem (Meghni 68); Mauri (Foggia 62); Zarate, Pandev
Goalscorers: Seedorf 8 (M), Zarate 25 (L), Zambrotta 35 (M), Pato 48 (M), Kaka 61 (M)