Milan:Kevin-Prince Boateng 9,Clarence Seedorf 23
Juventus:Mirko Vučinić 57
A tale of two halves(Juventus Official Website)
It proved to be a game of two halves for Juventus, under pressure for the majority of the first, and enjoying the lions’ share of possession following the restart. Conte’s men went desperately close to levelling early strikes from K.P.Boateng and Seedorf, but a well taken Vucinic goal was all the Bianconeri had to show for a commendable second period.
Antonio Conte welcomed back Chiellini and Marchisio from injury and handed a first full start to Vidal, after his stunning debut in the TIM Trophy against the Rossoneri. Thursday’s last-minute goalscorer Matri partnered player of the tournament Vucinic up front. The manager stuck to the same system worked on in pre-season, with Pirlo and Marchisio providing midfield protection to wingers Krasic and the aforementioned Vidal.
A balanced start to affairs saw Juventus carve out the first meaningful opportunity. Krasic cut inside in the 7th minute and fired a fierce left-footed attempt which stung the hands of Abbiati.
However it was Milan who took the lead from a phenomenal strike by Boateng. The attacking midfielder connected with Abate’s pinpoint cross and lashed the ball past Buffon with just nine minutes on the clock.
Shortly afterwards, the hosts gave the Bianconeri another scare. Cassano suddenly came to life in the middle of the park, fed an onrushing Gattuso who was shut out in the area by a robust challenge from Vidal.
Juve probed to find a way back into the game and the 18th minute saw Matri do well to direct De Ceglie’s teasing delivery on goal, but his glanced header failed to trouble Abbiati.
Milan doubled their lead four minutes later from a free-kick on the edge the area. Veteran midfielder Seedorf stood over the ball and dispatched an unstoppable strike, clipping off Buffon’s left-hand post and into the net.
The hosts piled on the pressure, keeping possession and forcing Conte’s wingers further back into their own half. But Juve stood firm and were unlucky not to find a way back into the game through Marchisio in the 27th minute. A neat interchange between Lichsteiner and Vucinic saw the ball break to the ‘Little Prince’, with the midfielder unfortunate to see his strong left-footed attempt clip the woodwork.
Thursday night’s goalscorer, Cassano, tested Buffon again from distance. The striker’s long range free-kick whistled narrowly over with the goalkeeper at full stretch.
Juventus rallied after the interval, clearly inspired by Conte’s words throughout the break. Five minutes from the restart, Pirlo drew a save from former team mate Abbiati, who parried his swerving drive to safety.
Pirlo’s influence helped the Bianconeri pull a goal back in the 57th minute, feeding substitute Del Piero who in turn slipped the ball for Vucinic. With an outstretched right foot, the Montenegrin steered a low shot past the goalkeeper and the fightback was on.
Vucinic caused panic in the hosts’ defence shortly afterwards, combining again with Del Piero and swerving to find space in the area, before seeing his shot deflected clear.
Juventus continued to ramp up the pressure and Abbiati had to be alert to Del Piero’s low drive from inside the area in the 68th minute, stopping the striker’s attempt with his feet.
Del Piero again stamped his authority on the game, showing intelligence as the Bianconeri launched an assault on the hosts’ goal. The captain tracked Krasic’s run and sprung the offside trap with a delicately chipped through ball. Abbiati, however, was equal to it, rushing out to thwart the Serbian.
Milan remained a threat on the counter and substitute Boateng almost made it three, curling a fine attempt which cannoned off Buffon’s right-hand post. Juve’s number one was in action shortly later, diving low to block Cassano’s close range shot.
Juventus failed to snatch what would have been a deserved equaliser and following four minutes of added time, referee Brighi brought the fascinating encounter to an end. Conte will take heart from his team’s second-half performance, which saw the Bianconeri firmly camped inside their opponents territory. All attentions now turn to next Sunday’s first championship encounter away at Udinese.
MILAN V JUVENTUS 2-1
GOALS: Boateng 9, Seedorf 22, Vucinic 57
Abbiati; Abate (Oddo 89), Nesta (Rodrigo 57), Bonera, Taiwo (Zambrotta 47); Gattuso (Kingsley Boateng 66), Ambrosini, Seedorf (Antonimi 83); Emanuelson, K.P. Boateng (Flamini 30); Cassano.
Substitutes not used: Amelia
Manager: Massimiliano Allegri
Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Ceglie (Ziegler 85); Marchisio (Pazienza 72), Pirlo; Krasic (Quagliarella 85), Vucinic, Matri (Del Piero 44), Vidal (Pasquato 54).
Substitutes not used: Storari, Sorensen
Manager: Antonio Conte
REFEREE: Brighi di Cesena
ASSISTANTS: Manganelli, Dobosz
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Bergonzi
BOOKINGS: Bonucci 33, Marchisio 72