AC Milan win suggests a two-horse Serie A race
Juventus 0-3 AC Milan
Ciro Ferrara could well be clearing his desk in the coming days as Juventus slumped to a disappointing defeat against AC Milan on Sunday evening.
A first half goal from centre back Alessandro Nesta and a second half brace from Brazilian Ronaldinho sealed a memorable 3-0 victory in Turin for Leonardo’s side.
The Italian media are now depicting this year’s title battle as a two-horse race between Milan and Inter. It is difficult to see past the two clubs as the chasing pack fail to gain ground on the pair.
Ferrara has been living dangerously for weeks now. Many predicted the 2-1 win over Inter Milan in early December as the possible turning point for the Old Lady after previous inconsistency in the league.
But it proved a false dawn.
Diego and company have struggled and ‘I bianconeri’ were less then convincing in taking three points away to Parma in midweek. A win on Sunday was simply a must for Ferrara to ensure his team’s participation in the hunt for the Scudetto and also for his position at the club.
Juventus started the game in a positive manner and put the visitors under early pressure. However their attacks lacked a cutting edge. Amauri struck a lonely figure up front: tenaciously running the channels or trying earnestly to hold up the ball, but ultimately unable to find an available gap past the watertight Rossoneri defence.
David Beckham started his second consecutive game since rejoining Milan on loan. He once again impressed with an assured performance. On the right side of midfield he showered his former Real Madrid team-mate Fabio Cannavaro with awkward crosses and displayed an industrious attitude which will have no doubt have impressed Fabio Capello.
Diego had the best chance in the opening quarter. He jinxed past Abate and the experienced Nesta and attempted to curl a right footed shot past Dida. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, who has been subjected to much crictism recently, the effort flashed past the wrong side of Dida’s left post.
Diego may have failed to elevate Juventus to the summit of Serie A but he does not bear the unfavourable title of the ‘worst signing of 2009’. That accolade lies with another Brazilian donned in the black and white of the Old Lady.
Felipe Melo cost the princely sum of €20.5 million to prise away from Fiorentina and has failed to win over Juve hearts. His contribution to Milan’s opener will not have helped matters.
Andrea Pirlo’s poor corner was scuffed by Melo into the path of Nesta. The centre back was presented with the easiest of tap-ins and duly obliged, racing towards the travelling supporters to celebrate.
It was a blow which demoralised the Juventus players and proved an obstacle which they would fail to overcome as they succombed to a dominant Milan side. They had chances to equalise before half time but Dida produced a fine save from Juve captain Chiellini.
Indeed Nesta’s goal was the catalyst for a spell of sustained ball retention for the visitors which spurred Ferrara to hurriedly introduce Alessandro Del Piero early in the second half.
Any hopes of Juve mounting a comeback were quelled when Ronaldinho glanced a header past Manninger, albeit thanks to a timely deflection from of De Ceglie.
The Brazilian then grabbed his second of the match and Milan’s third with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Under the heavy fog descending the Stadio Olimpico, Ronaldinho evaded the attentions of a tired and deflated Juve defence. He calmy stroked home Beckham’s corner as the disorientated home defence could only watch on with despair.
The result propels the Rossoneri to within eight points of their Milan rivals. Should they claim three points in their game in hand they will close the gap to five points on Inter. Juventus meanwhile, fall further off the pace and it remains to be seen whether Ciro Ferrara has a future at the club.