Serie A - Toni heads brace as new boys Verona stun Milan

Serie A, Stadio Marc Antonio Bentegodi - Verona 2 (Toni 30, 53) Milan 1 (Poli 14)

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Serie A - Toni heads brace as new boys Verona stun Milan
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Hellas Verona's forward Luca Toni (Front) vies with AC Milan's midfielder Andrea Poli (AFP)

Newly-promoted Verona marked their first Serie A game in 11 years with a shock 2-1 win over AC Milan, despite a number of controversial decisions by referee Gianpaolo Calvarese.

With the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against PSV looming the defeat comes at an inopportune time for Max Allegri’s side as questions continue to be asked of his stewardship.

Allegri’s side started the better of the two sides, with Ricardo Montolivo and Mario Balotelli both seeing efforts on goal saved by Rafael in the opposition goal.

However Milan eventually made their early pressure count when Mario Balotelli slotted through Poli, who took a neat touch round the defender’s challenge before calmly finishing under the advancing Rafael.

But the goal saw Verona up their performance levels, with Raphael Martinho and Bosko Jankovic providing effective outlets on the wings as the home side increasingly came forward.

And after gradually clawing their way back into the contest Verona restored parity after 29 minutes, when Toni rose highest from a corner kick to beat Kevin Constant to the ball and head past Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal.

Verona continued to push Milan deep into their own half, with Toni causing the opposition backline problems in particular following a strong effort on goal from the edge of the box, forcing Abbiati into an awkward save on the bounce.

Andrea Mandorlini’s side continued to impress after the break and Jankovic came close to giving Verona the lead after 50 minutes, getting on the end of a dangerous cross into the box. However the Milan keeper tipped his effort over the bar.

But Toni made it 2-1 to the hosts just seconds later, freeing up some space from his marker at the back post to head home from Jankovic’s clever cross with the outside of the foot.

Allegri introduced Robinho, Andrea Petagna and Urby Emanuelson in an attempt to stem the flow of the game, and the changes had the desired effect, with Milan dominating the final 20 minutes of the tie.

Philippe Mexes broke the offside trap from a clipped cross into the box, but the centre back bizarrely opted to try an overhead kick when he had time and space to head towards the target.

Domenico Maietta brought down Balotelli but his claims for a penalty were waved away from Calvarese, despite replays showing the forward was indeed fouled, albeit on the edge of the box.

And after a number of failed strikes at goal Balotelli was fouled in the box once again, with replays showing the former Manchester City player was tripped. However Calvarese told Balotelli to get to his feet, with the striker’s furious reaction earning him a booking as Verona sealed a famous victory.

PLAYER RATINGS

Verona – Rafael 7, Romelu 6, Moras 6, Maietta 6, Albertazzi 7, Donati 6, Jorginho 6, Cacciatore 5, Jankovic 7, Martinho 8, Toni 9.

AC Milan – Abbiati 6, Abate 5, Constant 5, Mexes 5, Zapata 5, Montolivo 6, Nocerino 4, Poli 7, Niang 4, El Shaarawy 5, Balotelli 6. Subs – Emanuelson 4, Petagna 4.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Luca Toni: Milan simply couldn’t deal with the movement and physical strength of the Verona frontman, making use of the space afforded to him by the opposition backline. The perfect targetman performance.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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