Milan 1-0 Bologna: Clarence Seedorf Turns On The Style To Save The Rossoneri’s Face
Milan coach Leonardo made a number of changes to the side as he brought in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to the starting lineup along with Ignazio Abate at right-back, Kakha Kaladze replacing Thiago Silva and Giuseppe Favalli playing at left-back. Bologna’s major change was drafting in striker Marcelo Zalayeta to the starting xi alongside Marco Di Vaio.
Milan started the game the brighter of the two sides and created lots of chances in the opening minutes. Huntelaar could have scored as early as the third minute when he found himself at the end of Abate’s cross but he volleyed it over the Bologna goal from a tight angle.
A couple of minutes later the Dutchman was again in the thick of the action but this time his cut-back was intercepted by Salvatore Lanna.
Leonardo’s side were playing high up the field and were looking energetic, leading Bologna to run after shadows. Brazilian international striker Alexandre Pato looked lively and could have created some damage on nine minutes when he managed to turn away from his markers but eventually lost possession.
The visitors did try and launch attacks of their own but couldn’t construct their moves properly and the best chance of the match until that moment inevitably fell to the Rossoneri in the 14th minute. Pato glided past a defender and cut the ball back for Gennaro Gattuso but the Italian midfielder failed to keep his volley on target, wasting a glorious opportunity to give his side the lead.
Chances came thick and fast for Milan but the former Italian champions failed to make the final pass count. Bologna appeared to be happy weathering the Milan storm but they did come close in the 23rd minute when Nicola Mingazzini played a through ball to Di Vaio, whose backheel found Zalayeta but the Uruguyan’s return pass was devoid of accuracy and was easily intercepted by Kaladze.
But that was that as far as Bologna’s moves were concerned. Milan defender Alessandro Nesta thought of going on a venture of his own in the 29th minute as he ran past two opposition players but was eventually stopped on the edge of the box by Andrea Raggi.
Three minutes later Andrea Pirlo came close when he saw his well-hit cross cleared from just under the crossbar by Miguel Angel Britos.
Veteran Dutch star Clarence Seedorf then turned on the style as he started getting on in the act. He took an ambitious shot from more than 30 yards but couldn’t keep it on target. Just before the referee blew the half-time whistle the former Real Madrid player went close when he beat the Bologna offside trap but couldn’t pass the ball to his teammates. It finished 0-0 at half time.
It was Milan again who went close after the restart. The Rossoneri were awarded a free-kick on 46 minutes when Huntelaar was pulled down by Britos on the edge of the penalty area but Pirlo’s kick took a deflection off the top of the wall and went just wide of the mark.
Leonardo’s men continued to pile the pressure on the visitors and the match was again being played inside Bologna’s half. In the 51st minute Huntelaar spread the ball wide for Seedorf but the 33-year-old could not get past Raggi in an one-on-one situation.
Milan continued to press on and the visitors continued to soak the pressure. The Rossoneri must have thought themselves to be unlucky in the 63rd minute when Pato’s shot hit the frame of the Bologna goal after some good work from Massimo Ambrosini.
The 2007 European champions had failed to score against Livorno in the last league match and appeared to be heading for a similar result. They maintained possession of the ball but couldn’t thread in the final pass.
Then Seedorf struck in the 75th minute as he ran down the left and when he couldn’t find anyone to pass to, beat defender Raggi and himself took a shot that went straight in. It was nothing more than Milan deserved and they went 1-0 up with fifteen minutes of normal time remaining.
Milan kept on sustaining possession and didn’t sit back, trying to get the second goal that would have put flight to all hopes of a Bologna comeback. Seedorf had looked excellent in the second half and looked hungry for more goals in the final ten minutes of the match.
But the hosts survived a scare with just minutes remaining in the match when Bologna came close. Mingazzini drove a 30-yard shot in the 87th minute but Milan goalkeeper Marco Storari pulled off a world class save to stave off the potential equaliser.
From the subsequent corner Bologna again came close, this time Daniele Portanova heading the ball just wide. But Leonardo’s side held on for a 1-0 victory and have somehow kept their Scudetto hopes alive.