Serie A - Ibrahimovic loses on nightmare debut

Eurosport - Sat, 11 Sep 21:38:00 2010

Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty on a nightmare Milan debut in an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at Serie A new boys Cesena.

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First-half goals from Erjon Bogdani and Emanuele Giaccherini gave Cesena a lead that, despite second-half pressure from their illustrious guests, remained until the whistle.

If anything Cesena could have scored more, while Ibrahimovic - who had an indifferent game and looked a shadow of the player who dominated Italian football with city rivals Internazionale - put a poor spot-kick against the woodwork late in the game.

Ibrahimovic - who arrived from Barcelona with much fanfare and self-proclamation - headed a triple-pronged attack alongside Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato, as Milan felt able to leave another big-money signing, Robinho, on the bench.

Some good touches were shown up front but a three-man midfield of Andrea Pirlo (31), Gennaro Gattuso (32) and Massimo Ambrosini (33) had a combined age of 96 and lacked the pace to deal with the counter attacks of Ezequiel Schelotto and Giaccherini.

Burly striker Bogdani also gave Thiago Silva and Sokratis Papastathopoulos a torrid as Milan were torn apart on the break on several occasions.

Ronaldinho almost drew first blood with a fizzing effort from the left that was matched by Francesco Antonioli in the home goal, but that was about it for Milan in the first half.

Bogdani was denied a tap-in by Christian Abbiati, and the Albanian should have scored when he headed over from a corner.

Rossoneri defender Luca Antonini denied Schelotto a simple finish with a last-gasp block as Milan found themselves on the ropes early on.

The hosts took the lead in style just after the half hour. Giaccherini spread a superb ball from left to right, which Schelotto took on the chest before volleying a perfect cross on to the head of Bogdani who easily beat Sokratis to power the finish into the bottom left.

Milan continued to press going forward but were again exposed, only saved when Sokratis slid in after Thiago Silva and Gattuso were easily beaten by Bogdani, who resembled pre-Barca Ibrahimovic as he dominated the forward line.

And just before half-time it was 2-0 when, after an Ambrosini shot was blocked, the hosts broke at ferocious pace for Bogdani to find Giaccherini, who rattled a low finish in off the post.

Milan started the second half in more positive fashion as Pato - who had a first-half goal chalked off for offside - saw a second disallowed for use of the arm when trying to control a high ball on his chest.

The defensive curse was still intact though when Daniele Bonera - shunted from right-back to centre-half as Ignazio Abate was brought on for Thiago Silva - played a rotten backpass across the face of his own goal, with Abbiati fractionally ahead of Bogdani to clear.

Still, the Rossoneri were camped in Cesena’s half as Ibrahimovic fired just over from 30 yards.

New Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri decided more finishing acuity was required but eyebrows were raised when Filippo Inzaghi came on for Gattuso - making it a four-man attack line.

The lack of midfield was risky and almost exposed when Marco Parolo fired just wide after the visiting defence parted.

Inzaghi almost pulled one back after a typical run off the last defender but was denied a close-range finish by the flying Antonioli.

The veteran former Roma keeper was in fine form, denying Pato a long-range strike as Milan cranked up the pressure.

After a great ball from Ibrahimovic, Inzaghi saw a goal-bound effort deflected wide by Japan left-back Yuto Nagatomo but after that 79th-minute chance it was Cesena who looked the more likely.

Abbiati was called into action three times in quick succession as Cesena closed the match out and won a series of corners.

There was a chance for Milan to pull one back when Inzaghi drew a foul in the box from Nagatomo, but Ibrahimovic seemed to lack confidence as he stepped up to take the penalty, promptly placing it against the right-hand post.

It is a crash back down to earth for Milan, who won their opening game 4-0, who slip behind Inter and Cesena to third although 14 sides are in action on Sunday.

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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