AC Milan wins 2-0, takes provisional Serie A lead

AP, Tuesday 20 Dec 2011

A day after the latest arrests in a match-fixing investigation, the Italian league resumed Tuesday with AC Milan taking the provisional lead in Serie A following a confident 2-0 win at Cagliari

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored Milan's second goal (Photo: Reuters)

Milan went ahead after four minutes with an own goal by Cagliari defender Francesco Pisano, who was attempting to prevent Antonio Nocerino from redirecting a cross from Robinho into an empty net.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic then sealed the match on the hour mark, taking a pass from Kevin-Prince Boateng and chipping the ball over charging Cagliari goalkeeper Michael Agazzi with the tips of his toes.

Ibrahimovic’s 11th goal of the season left him alongside Atalanta’s German Denis as the Serie A’s leading scorers.

Milan moved one point in front of Juventus, which visits third-place Udinese on Wednesday.

Earlier, Fiorentina drew 0-0 at Siena in a Tuscan derby, moving both clubs one more spot above the relegation zone.

On a rainy and windy night at the Stadio Sant’Elia in Sardinia, Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri once again defied Silvio Berlusconi, lining up Robinho alongside Ibrahimovic instead of Alexandre Pato like the club president has suggested.

Robinho proved to be the right selection, as the Brazil forward sprinted past two defenders and drew Agazzi out of position to set up Milan’s opening goal.

Albin Ekdal had a chance to equalize for Cagliari in the 14th with a long, curling shot but Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati pushed the powerful effort wide.

Two minutes after Ibrahimovic’s goal, the Sweden striker appeared to suffer from a stomach problem, bending over at the waist for a moment, then kneeling down on one knee.

Milan’s medical staff helped Ibrahimovic off the pitch, but he came back on a minute later.

Pato replaced Robinho in the 74th and had a chance two minutes from the end but shot directly at a defender.

With the next Serie A round not until Jan. 7-8, Milan will go to Dubai after Christmas for a midseason training camp. Also, Milan vice president Adriano Galliani is planning to meet with Manchester City on Thursday to discuss signing striker Carlos Tevez.

In Tuscany, both sides had several chances, with Siena striker Emanuele Calaio heading onto the crossbar in the 28th minute and Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic and Alessandro Gamberini being denied from within the area.

Fiorentina moved six points clear of the relegation zone, while Siena moved three points clear of the bottom three squads—Cesena, Novara and Lecce—which each play Wednesday.

The midweek matches were originally slated to open the Serie A season in late August, but were postponed due to a players’ strike.

While the strike was eventually settled, the Italian game continues to be rocked by an ongoing investigation into match-fixing and illegal betting on games.

On Monday, former Atalanta captain Cristiano Doni and 16 other people were arrested across Italy as part of an inquiry focused on several Serie A and B matches from the past two seasons.

“This is another page that certainly doesn’t honor Italian sport,” Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Petrucci said Tuesday. “We already said years ago that betting was a big problem. Now we’ve got to continue with this strategy. There are laws and they should be applied.”

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