Thursday, October 29, 2009

checkmate

Nelson Dida

S.S.C.Napoli 2 AC Milan 2
This was the game that was going to confirm continuity for me. And the start was explosive to say the least. But before I get to the start, Leonardo knew that he was going to cross swords with one of the most effective coaches around in Walter Mazzari. Mazzari's side, post Donadoni have looked like Napoli should. And AC Milan were wary, because its been awhile since AC Milan won at the Sao Paolo. Ironically, our last victory at this venue was when Leonardo kicked the ball into the back of the Napoli net.

Coming to the start, we couldn't have hoped for a better way to kick the game into action. 2 goals inside the space of 6 minutes, where we ripped open the Partenopei defense. And then, we just stopped playing. To make matters worse, Nesta had to leave the field and be substituted by the infamous Khaka. For awhile though, we pressed forward in search of the deadly third, as we knew we had the momentum to cause an embarrassing defeat for the home side. Silva committed one of usual errors as he went to sleep with Lavezzi almost scoring. Our defense began to look shaky in Nesta's absence. Abate was given the role of guarding the right hand side and he had a torrid time against Lavezzi's skill and pace. Pirlo seemed like he wanted to join Nesta on the bench, but not by picking up an injury. The urgency was evident, in his tackles. Why Leonardo sticks with Ambrosini in every game, baffles me. Its a stickler.

Dida either has heroic nights, or simply disastrous ones. This one was going to be the former. He pulled out one of his usual miraculous saves to deny Maggio early in the second half. Ronaldinho continued to get dispossessed with ease. With Seedorf dilly dallying with the ball around the box, Napoli almost scored their opener. Abate started improving defensively in the second half. Until the sending off, he was Milan's best outfield player. Pippo, after scoring from a marginally offside position, misses in front of an open net. That was going to be our last opportunity to put the game to bed. Luca Cigarini, a player I desperately wanted in Milan colors, scored a beauty from distance. This breathed life into the Azzzurri. But this wasn't going to be the end. Some atrocious defending in the box was duly punished by German Denis at the death, deep into injury time. That was the equalizer for Napoli.

Mazzari's side never gave up. They battled throughout the game. We basically chickened out, and thought we could defend for 80 odd minutes of the game. But we dint have the quality or the character to do so. 2 additional points would have changed our position on the table remarkably, as we would have found ourselves in the top 4. Not that we are way off the top, but top 4 is top 4. We did show however, that we are in a positive frame of mind. The goals are coming. And the confidence is high in the Milan camp, which is a good thing. Parma away, with the Ducali being the surprise team of the season, as they sit in the fourth position in the league. It should be a relatively easier ride. As long, as we don't take them for granted, like we did to the team from Naples.

Scorers -
S.C.C. Napoli - Cigarini 91', Denis 93'
AC Milan - Inzaghi 2', Pato 5'

video

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