Udinese 1-0 AC Milan: Di Natale Strike Sinks 10-Man Rossoneri
Antonio Di Natale’s first half strike proved to be the difference between the two sides at the Stadio Friuli, where the hosts picked up their second successive home win against the Diavoli.
Udinese coach Pasquale Marino brought in Francesco Lodi for Cristian Zapata, while Clarence Seedorf played in thetrequartista role for Milan as Ronaldinho sat on the bench. Filippo Inzaghi was preferred in attack to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
The Rossoneri were in control of the early stages of the game, with Gianluca Zambrotta and Massimo Oddo pushing forward from the back, while Inzaghi was looking lively up front.
Seedorf’s confidence was clear as he tried to get involved at every opportunity, flashing a shot over the bar after eight minutes.
Udinese were coping well in the middle of the park, with Gaetano D’Agostino putting himself about with gusto, but were less convincing in possession as they frequently gifted it back to the visitors.
Marco Storari was called into action after 20 minutes when Antonio Floro Flores latched onto a long ball, but while his shot was on target, the angle was too tight to really test the Milan ‘keeper.
It was a warning for the Rossoneri, and they conceded in the 22nd minute. Oddo played Mauricio Isla onside, and after his shot crashed off the near post, the rebound fell nicely for Antonio Di Natale to bundle the ball home.
The hosts suffered a blow soon after, however, as Isla was carried off with an injury to be replaced by Dusan Basta.
Milan almost drew level shortly before the half hour mark when Kakha Kaladze rose above Basta, but could not direct his header on target. After 32 minutes, D’Agostino brought down Seedorf as the two Zebrette centre halves ball-watched, but Andrea Pirlo’s free kick was blasted into the wall.
From the resulting corner, Nesta’s header rattled the crossbar as the Rossoneri looked for the equaliser.
The Zebrette were still creating chances, however, and in the 38th minute Gokhan Inler flicked a cross-field ball past Mathieu Flamini and forced Storari into a good save with his resulting shot from distance. Moments later, Floro Flores turned Zambrotta inside out but his shot went wide.
As the game ticked into first half injury time, a long ball found Seedorf on the right hand side of the penalty area. However, his shot was completely mis-hit and it ballooned into the Udine sky. The goal proved to be elusive, however, and Leonardo looked deep in thought as he prepared to give his half time team talk.
No changes in personnel were made at half time, nor was there a change in the pattern of play. Udinese continued to be the more lively and creative side and Di Natale tested Storari from range minutes after the restart.
‘Toto’ should have given his side a two-goal lead in the 50th minute. Floro Flores exchanged passes with Di Natale just inside the Milan half, but after racing into the penalty area, the striker’s effort rebounded off the post and out of play.
The Rossoneri tried to press forward, but there was no spark up front to really create a chance for Pato or Inzaghi. In the 59th minute, Maurizio Domizzi lunged in late on Inzaghi to concede a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area.
Leonardo took the opportunity to bring on Ronaldinho for Pato, who looked to have picked up a slight injury, but the Brazilian’s free kick deflected off the wall and out for a corner.
Ignazio Abate was also thrown into the fray in place of Gennaro Gattuso in order to combat Milan’s complete lack of pace. Ronaldinho carved open the Zebrette backline in the 66th minute, but Inzaghi was marginally offside.
Moments after, Abate’s mis-hit shot almost fell to the outstretched boot of Flamini, before Ronaldinho then fed the ball through to Zambrotta. The full-back cut the ball across goal, but Seedorf’s shot was blocked by Domizzi.
Leonardo’s final throw of the dice was to bring on Huntelaar with 15 minutes remaining, but while the Diavoli were the team in the ascendancy, Udinese remained a danger on the counter attack.
Milan needed to stay calm as the game entered the final 10 minutes, but Mathieu Flamini picked up two yellow cards in quick succession and was given his marching orders by referee Luca Banti.
The visitors continued to press forward and Samir Handanovic saved Ronaldinho’s shot from a tight angle as the clock ticked into injury time, but the Rossoneri could not find a way through and succumbed to defeat.