Milan’s new 3-4-3 system showed an improvement in performance, but they were still beaten 1-0 by Malaga after Joaquin made up for a missed penalty.
It was crisis time for the Rossoneri after their worst Serie A start in 70 years, while Robinho, Christian Abbiati, Ignazio Abate and Nigel De Jong were sidelined. Massimiliano Allegri caused shockwaves by sending Kevin-Prince Boateng to the stands and introducing a brand new 3-4-3 system with Mattia De Sciglio and Kevin Constant as wing-backs. Malaga had a 100 per cent record in this Champions League group and were yet to concede, although they were without Nacho Monreal, Sergio Sanchez, Jeremy Toulalan, Diego Buonanotte and Julio Baptista, so Eliseu was moved to left-back.
Riccardo Montolivo had a long-range strike comfortably blocked, while Giampaolo Pazzini’s free kick was well over. Montolivo was booked for a late tackle on Camacho, then Pazzini and Stephan El Shaarawy just failed to get their heads on to a splendid De Sciglio cross.
El Shaarawy had a great chance when Urby Emanuelson sprung the offside trap on the half-hour mark, but drilled wide of the upright in acres of space.
Malaga were very dangerous on the counter-attack, but young talent Isco blasted over the bar from the edge of the box.
Moments later Isco was on target with an angled daisy-cutter, but Marco Amelia was at full stretch to fingertip it round the far post. Malaga were stepping up the pressure and Martin Demichelis turned over from a corner.
The referee pointed to the spot on the stroke of half-time when Kevin Constant went shoulder-to-shoulder with Jesus Gamez in a really rather harsh penalty decision. Joaquin stepped up and missed, clipping the top of the crossbar!
It had already been raining this evening, but intensified after the break. Emanuelson opted for two shots rather than assists for Pazzini and El Shaarawy in better positions.
There was danger as Isco threaded through for Javier Saviola to spring the offside trap and Daniele Bonera’s challenge was considered clean, as he blocked off the Argentine’s shot. The Milan defender also fell on to the ball with his hand, but that was not a voluntary gesture.
A free kick was touched on for Montolivo’s powerful but central effort smothered by Willy Caballero, while Saviola curled over the bar and Amelia smothered at Saviola’s feet after a Philippe Mexes error.
Malaga did take the lead eventually at La Rosaleda as Joaquin made up for his missed penalty. Francesco Acerbi made the mistake to allow Joaquin to go clear on a Manuel Iturra ball over the top, the finish going in off the inside of the near post as Amelia came rushing out.
Moments later Eliseu pounced on a terrible Constant clearance to unleash a screamer from distance that Amelia fingertipped round the top corner of the net.
Alexandre Pato replaced Constant, moving Emanuelson into the wing-back role. Pazzini’s glancing header on a De Sciglio assist flashed across the face of goal, as he didn’t get enough on it.
El Shaarawy’s finish was charged down after a strong solo run, but De Sciglio got a crucial touch to intercept a cross for Isco clear on the counter-attack. Bojan Krkic replaced defender Acerbi, the ex-Barcelona striker greeted by jeers from the home crowd. Amelia didn’t quite get to a corner, but was fortunate that Eliseu nodded off target.
El Shaarawy created a very good scoring opportunity, chesting down a long ball over the top and shaking off a defender to force a tough save out of Willy at the near post. From the resulting corner, Mexes flashed an angled drive across the face of goal to prompt another set-piece. A long-range free kick was touched on for Pato, who promptly hit teammate Mexes. Malaga also gave a run-out to former Milan defender Oguchi Onyewu, whose Rossoneri career never really started due to a serious injury.
Malaga 1-0 Milan
Scorers: Joaquin 64 (Ma)
Malaga: Willy; Gamez, Demichelis, Weligton, Eliseu; Camacho, Iturra; Portillo (Onyewu 91), Joaquin (Duda 85), Isco; Saviola (Santa Cruz 70)
Milan: Amelia; Mexes, Bonera, Acerbi (Bojan 79); De Sciglio, Montolivo, Ambrosini, Constant (Pato 69); Emanuelson, Pazzini, El Shaarawy
Ref: Proenca (POR)
Missed penalty: Joaquin 44 (Ma)
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.