Serie A - Milan draw in season opener

Fri, 09 Sep 21:48:00 2011

Milan came from behind to begin their Serie A defence with an entertaining 2-2 draw at home to Lazio.

Ibrahimovic Cassano Milan Lazio AP/LA PRESSE - 0

Early goals from Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse in their debuts left the Rossoneri with a mountain to climb, but strikes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antonio Cassano squared things up by half time.

And though there were chances for all four scorers to double their tallys after the interval, as well as Kevin-Prince Boateng and substitute Pato, Lazio were able to hold on for a point at the home of the current league holders.

It was the visitors, who hadn’t won at the San Siro in the league since September 1989, who started off the brightest though the first real chance fell to Milan debutant Alberto Aquilani.

The midfielder, on loan from Liverpool for the season, was put clean through on goal but didn’t count on goalkeeper Albano Bizzarri’s well-timed run out from goal and great block at point blank range.

Lazio countered immediately and after Hernanes had beaten three opponents in a majestic run, Mauri flashed a ball across the goalmouth, almost finding Klose in the process.

It only took the duo a further three minutes to make the connection they wanted, this time Mauri’s ball an exquisite diagonal chip into the danger zone with which Klose wrong-footed Alessandro Nesta on his first touch before firing past a helpless Christian Abbiati.

Eager to join his strike partner on the goal-on-debut list, Cisse took advantage of a collision between Nesta and Gennaro Gattuso to sweep in and force a good parry from Abbiati, with Klose unable to get properly onto the rebound.

The accidental clash with Nesta saw the combative midfielder forced off, making way for another debutant in the form of Dutchman Mark van Bommel.

On 21 minutes, Cisse could not be denied and the away side were, to the shock of many, 2-0 up at the Meazza.

Another wonderful Mauri ball in from deep on the right was powerfully headed into the top corner by the French forward, and the new-look Biancocelesti strike force was off to a flyer.

It was, however, the wake-up call the sleeping giants needed. Uninspiring and repetitive for half an hour, they finally began to show vigour and creativity, with Aquilani at the heart of everything.

It was the former Roma man’s excellent through pass to Cassano which put the hosts back in the game, and though the striker was selfless in squaring for an Ibrahimovic tap-in, he would have his moment on 33 minutes.

After Kevin-Prince Boateng had forced a corner from Bizzarri, Cassano rose well to head his side level and give the defending champs a second chance at the contest.

The neutral scoreline almost lasted just three minutes courtesy of a select run and low centre by right-back Abdoulay Konko, which Hernanes inexplicably put wide from eight yards out with the goal begging.

Cassano almost completed the turnaround within seconds of the restart, only to send his effort the wrong side of the far post by a matter of inches.

On 63 minutes, the striker rattled the upright after receiving Ibrahimovic’s ball to the left of the six yard box, before teeing up a drive Boateng drive moments later which stung the palms of Bizzarri.

Breaking immediately, Cisse outran the entire Milan back four to latch onto a long punt upfield, before Nesta recovered remarkably to prevent a guaranteed goal.

As time elapsed, the visitors grew more and more willing to defend what they had in the face of heavy Milan pressure, and Bizzarri came to the rescue five minutes from time when Ibrahimovic latched onto a lofted through pass and fired straight at the Argentine.

Liam Happe / Eurosport

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