The matchup this weekend featured two teams moving in opposite directions. Lazio looks to be in a relegation battle while Milan has rocketed back up the Serie A table in recent weeks with a run of form.
Lazio started the game well as Nesta left a through ball for Dida and Rocchi slipped behind Thiago Silva. Luckily for Milan, Rocchi’s shot was wide of the post.
After Lazio’s first minute threat, however, Milan controlled the ball for extremely long stretches. They weren’t applying much pressure on the Lazio goal, but kept the home side on their toes by having to defend possession.
The Rossoneri continually pushed their attack up the left flank for some interplay between Ronaldinho, Seedorf and Zambrotta. It paid off in the 21st minute when Pirlo whipped in a free kick that curled towards the net and Thiago Silva headed it home. Milan had an early lead for the first time in quite a while.
The left-sided attack paid off again in the 34th minute as Ronaldinho crossed the ball in for Pato, who delivered a bouncing header to the near post, past the diving Muslera, to open a 2-0 lead.
Near the end of the half, with Pato running at the defense, one of the Lazio defenders made a great sliding tackle but Muslera picked up the ball off the defenders foot. The ref awarded an indirect free kick from inside the box, which was protested vehemently by the Lazio players. Pirlo tapped to Seedorf but the shot was just wide of the near post.
Lazio’s manager, Davide Ballardini, inserted Julio Cruz at the expense of Stefano Mauri to start the second half. Zarate dropped into the playmaker role behind the strikers while Matuzalem dropped into midfield, leaving Lazio with a more attacking lineup.
Lazio played with a renewed purpose in the second half, forcing Nesta to clear from a scramble in the box early on.
Marco Borriello continued to look lost, continuing his form from the match with Real Madrid mid-week. Despite scoring a brace against Parma, he has been completely ineffective in the last two matches. As if to illustrate the point, the striker took way too much time on the ball after receiving a pass in the box and gave away possession during a scoring chance.
After having Meghni come in for Baronio, Lazio made an even bigger push for a goal. On the 64th minute, their hard work and pressure finally paid off. Zarate unleashed a shot from the top of the box, which was partially blocked by the defender close to him, but then caromed off Silva and past Dida into the corner of the net.
Only a minute or two later, Zarate unleashed another big shot which Dida managed to parry away. With an injury to Siviglia, Lazio was forced to use their last substitution to bring in Cribari. Milan countered by bringing in Pippo Inzaghi for the ineffective Borriello.
With Lazio back in the game and flooding the Milan box with crosses and shots, Tommaso Rocchi headed just wide of the net on a glorious chance. In order to preserve the win, Milan manager Leonardo inserted Mathieu Flamini and Ignazio Abate for Clarence Seedorf and Ronaldinho.
On the 83rd minute, Muslera produced the save of the game as he put his hands on a thunderous volley from Mathieu Flamini from the top of the box.
Milan was eventually able to hang on for the final whistle, but not without a scare from Lazio in the second half. Up until the lucky goal by Zarate, Milan was in full control but were unable to regain their momentum.
The win moved Milan into third place in Serie A and only two points behind Juventus.
Player of the Game
Despite being on the wrong end of the own goal, Thiago Silva was the best player on the pitch. He blocked countless shots, dominated in the air and even scored a goal. He continues to evolve as the perfect partner for Alessandro Nesta.
Milan kept with their 4-3-3 formation.
DEF: Oddo – Silva – Nesta – Zambrotta
MID: Ambrosini – Pirlo – Seedorf
FWD: Pato – Borriello – Ronaldinho
Lazio played with a 4-3-1-2 formation.
DEF: Lichsteiner – Siviglia – Radu – Kolarov
MID: Brocchi – Baronio – Mauri
FWD: Rocchi - Zarate