Juventus Beat AC Milan in Six-Goal Thriller
In a match that was vital for both teams and their ambitions to stay in touch with Mourinho's Inter, it was the home side who took the points with a hard-working and at times inspired victory.
Juventus who have struggled at times this season with all sorts of injuries to key players look to have really put their season on track with a decisive victory.
AC Milan, who were without Kaka and Rino Gattuso, looked to have really missed the grunt of the little Italian midfielder in this encounter. The conditions would have suited his harrying game perfectly but unfortunately for the Rossonieri, he was unavailable.
The game started with Juventus gaining an early upper hand, controlling the possession and gaining a territorial advantage over their sluggish looking opponents.
This early pressure would lead to the first goal after a good pass into the box was almost collected by Alessandro Del Piero before the front man was scythed down in a poorly conceived challenge by Marek Jankulovski.
The referee had no doubt in awarding the penalty, and it was the correct decision in the circumstances.
Del Piero was unhindered by the terrible conditions underfoot and smashed the ball into the inside of the side netting for the first goal with 16 minutes gone. Christian Abbiati was left with nothing to do but pick the ball out of his goal.
Interestingly, as is often the case, the Milan side now started to play some football and after a good spell, they were finally rewarded in the 31st minute with a well constructed equaliser courtesy of a Georgian and two Brazilians.
Defender Kahka Kaladze surged forward, showing some good presence of mind to wrong foot the defender and play in Ronaldinho who played a perfect pass almost onto the foot of the lunging Alexandre Pato who made no mistake from six yards.
1-1 and everything to play for.
Juventus it seems were stung into action by this, and only three minutes later, Giorgio Chiellini was able to jump unopposed for the corner kick after AC Milan's zonal marking system was found out for all to see.
This was not the last of the scoring before the break however and Juventus seemed to sense weakness and indecision in their opponents and stung them with another well contrived goal in the 41st minute, when Amauri rose unmarked at the far post to nod home a text book finish.
3-1 at the break and Milan were in trouble.
At the beginning of the second half, though, it was Milan who seized the initiative and in the 56th minute, a well thought-out passage of passes led to Seedorf playing in Ambrosini on the edge of the area who struck a deflected drive past the Juve keeper Alex Manninger, who was sent the wrong way, and suddenly it was a game again.
Milan seemed to take heart at this and the game was somewhat to and fro with both sides looking for the goal that would change the night in their favour. Juventus were in the stronger position, though, and their players seemed at times to be beneficiaries of the morale boosting feeling the one-goal advantage gave them.
The deciding moment was to come in the worst possible way for the Ac Milan side as enterprising Juventus substitute Paolo De Ceglie was able to get away from Zambrotta and the defender could only foul him from behind which meant a second yellow for the former Juventus man.
It is interesting to note that Zambrotta acknowledged the referee as correct before making the long walk to the changing room, nice to see the official recognised for his vigilance.
Soon after this the game was effectively over in the 69th minute when Mohamed Sissoko and Amauri exchanged the ball on the edge of the area with the big African putting the Brazilian in for his second and the sixth goal of an entertaining encounter.
Even with 20 minutes to go, it looked a bridge to far for the Milan side who had obviously been taken toll of by the heavy conditions under foot. Their midfield looked tired and with ten men it was even harder for them to compete.
Juventus could have, in truth, gotten a couple more before the end but the conditions were in no one's favour and the game slowly ebbed toward its inevitable conclusion.
Juventus can take a lot from an encouraging performance with Del Piero once again very important for the home side. The contribution of Brazilian Amauri is again vital, and they look to be in good shape for the next half of the season, which is extremely admirable considering the terrible start they endured.
AC Milan will no doubt pick themselves up, as they always seem to do, and go again, their side infused with to much quality to be down for too long.
Bragging rights go to the Turin side though, which I am sure they will gleefully accept.
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