SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 24 - 10 Feb 2013 (14.00 UK)
Cagliari 1 - 1 Milan
Ibarbo 45 (C), Balotelli pen 82 (M)
Stadio IS Arenas

Mario Balotelli converted another late penalty to earn Milan a 1-1 draw away to Cagliari.

Absolute chaos surrounded this fixture, as it was moved to the Stadio Olimpico in Turin on Wednesday after the Is Arenas failed security checks, switched back following an emergency appeal on Friday and on Saturday the authorities lost their own legal action to have it played behind closed doors.

The Sardinians had other issues to contend with, as Radja Nainggolan and Danilo Avelar sat out bans with Nene injured, so 18-year-old Nicola Murru started in defence. Riccardo Montolivo was suspended for Milan, joining the sidelined Giampaolo Pazzini, Daniele Bonera, Kevin Constant and Nigel De Jong.

Mario Balotelli bagged a decisive brace on his Rossoneri debut last week and was again thrown into the starting XI. Milan had won their last three visits to Cagliari and were undefeated here since October 1998.

Michael Agazzi turned a Massimo Ambrosini snapshot over the bar, but Ignazio Abate had to sprint back to the rescue on Victor Ibarbo after a double Philippe Mexes-Cristian Zapata error.

Luca Rossettini’s crucial intervention prevented Mbaye Niang’s cross from reaching a diving Sulley Muntari header from six yards.

Ibarbo had a promising counter-attack, but wasted it by firing well over, while Agazzi got down to smother a Balotelli daisy-cutter of a free kick. The Cagliari goalkeeper rushed to grab the loose ball from a Rossettini deflection before Stephan El Shaarawy could get there.

It was Cagliari who broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time. Daniele Conti chipped in a free kick and Ibarbo got between two defenders to flick it past Christian Abbiati with the last header of the first half.

Balotelli hit a fierce free kick from 25 metres, but Agazzi held it well, while another set piece hit the wall. Conti threatened a second for the Sardinians, his screamer skimming the crossbar from distance.

Kevin-Prince Boateng replaced El Shaarawy and Bojan Krkic came on for Ambrosini in a bid to shake things up for Milan.

Boateng drilled off target from distance and Abbiati got down to smother an Albin Ekdal header.

Milan were awarded a penalty 10 minutes from time, as Agazzi parried a shot with his foot and as it went into the air, Davide Astori clearly wrestled Balotelli to the ground. It was his second yellow card and SuperMario stepped up and coolly converted to retain his 100 per cent career record from the spot.

Balotelli nearly turned the game around as Milan poured forward, but his header from point-blank range was straight at Agazzi.

Balotelli did have the ball in the net in stoppages with an acrobatic overhead kick, but it was disallowed because the cross had gone out of play before Robinho nodded it back from the by-line. Agazzi did brilliantly to get down and deny a low Bojan drive, then Balotelli was offside on the follow-up.


Cagliari: Agazzi; Pisano, Astori, Rossettini, Murru (Ariaudo 70); Dessena, Conti, Ekdal; Thiago Ribeiro (Cossu 56), Sau (Pinilla 76), Ibarbo
Milan: Agazzi; Pisano, Astori, Rossettini, Murru (Ariaudo 70); Dessena, Conti, Ekdal; Thiago Ribeiro (Cossu 56), Sau (Pinilla 76), Ibarbo
Ref: Giannoccaro

Sent off: Astori 81 (C)