Pato shines for AC Milan, Eto’o scores on debut
Mark Carter looks back at the best of the weekend’s Serie A action with both AC Milan and Inter involved in closely contested encounters.
Siena 1 – 2 AC Milan
New AC Milan boss Leonardo began his competitive managerial career with a confidence-boosting opening day victory thanks to his compatriots, Pato and a revitalised Ronaldinho.
The hard fought win will undoubtedly come as a relief to the rookie coach following just one win from 10 pre-season matches, with his side suffering eight consecutive defeats in the process.
Milan dominated possession after a nervy start and thought they had broken the deadlock when Brazilian wonderkid Pato glanced in a header from Ronaldinho’s whipped-in free kick – only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Just minutes later, the pair combined again – this time to greater effect. Ronaldinho played an incisive through-ball into the path of Pato and the youngster coolly slotted the ball low into the far corner.
But the Rossoneri’s lead lasted only five minutes.
Siena – who rarely threatened during the game – equalised through French-born Algerian international, Abdelkader Ghezzel.
The striker pounced to score after seeing Jarolin’s low drive palmed away by Milan third-choice goalkeeper Storari.
Milan striker Borriello – starting in place of the suspended Huntelaar – proved ineffective in what was a scrappy first-half.
Pato – also known as ‘The Duck’ – looked lively from the restart, and it didn’t take him long to regain Milan’s lead.
Another probing through-ball from Ronaldinho met Flamini inside the six-yard-box, and the Frenchman cut the ball back for an arriving Pato – who began the move – to grab his second of the game, and make it 29 goals in 63 games for the prolific Brazilian.
Siena had chances to level the score once again. Former Middlesbrough striker, Massimo Maccarone, thumped a half-volley wide from seven yards out after springing the offside trap.
Ronaldinho – wearing 80 (the year of his birth) on his jersey – almost increased Milan’s advantage, only to see his somewhat trademark overhead kick tipped over the bar.
Milan had to absorb more pressure as Siena chased the game, but managed to claim the much-needed victory and it was the craft and superiority of the Brazilian duo that made the difference.
Tempers flared as the final-whistle sounded and several Siena players confronted match-winner Pato. Managers and coaching staff from both sides had to escort their players away as the tension in the stands resonated on the pitch.
Man of the Match: Alexandre Pato – deadly finishing bagged his side all three points in an opening-day victory.
Inter Milan 1 – 1 Bari
Reigning Serie A champions, Inter Milan, began their campaign with a disappointing draw at home to newly-promoted Bari.
The Nerazzuri began brightly as summer arrival, Samuel Eto’o, saw his early effort saved after engineering space in the box.
The Cameroon star was eager to impress on his debut and looked lively in the opening quarter of the game. However, the first half proved a largely uneventful spectacle in a far from capacity San Siro.
The closest Mourinho’s men came to opening the scoring was via a deflected cross by Diego Milito that almost crept in past Bari’s bemused goalkeeper.
Ricardo Queresma, was introduced at half-time in place of the ageing Vieira in a failed attempt to brighten the Inter attack – with the Portuguese international enduring a torrid half.
Inter took the lead in controversial fashion. Milito was adjudged to have been fouled inside the Bari area in what was an extremely soft decision.
Eto’o took full advantage of the injustice and sent Bari goalkeeper Gillet the wrong way from the spot and opened his account in Italian football.
The debutant then missed a glorious opportunity to double Inter’s advantage on 66 minutes – dragging his effort wide of the post with the goal gaping.
Inter’s highly uninspiring performance was compounded as Bari – largely impotent in attack – stunned the San Siro and scored the equalizer.
Belarusian striker Katuzov found himself in acres of space in Inter’s box and hit home second-half substitute Langella’s pull back.
The plucky newly-promoted side did not sit back and almost grabbed a dramatic winner in the final minute of stoppage time – only for Rivas to blaze the ball high over from close-range.
Jose Mourinho extended his imperious record of consecutive unbeaten home league matches to 118, but his side were far from convincing and will need to improve greatly ahead of next Saturday’s derby Dalla Madonnina (Milan Derby).
Man of the Match: Samuel Eto’o – despite missing an easy chance, he looked dangerous in possession and scored the penalty. As for his teammates, Barcelona they were not.
The weekend’s other results in Serie A:
Bologna 1-1 Fiorentina
Catania 1-2 Sampdoria
Genoa 3-2 Roma
Juventus 1-0 Chievo
Lazio 1-0 Atalanta
Livorno 0-0 Cagliari
Palermo 2-1 Napoli
Udinese 2-2 Parma