SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 1 - 24 Aug 2013 (17.00 UK)
Verona 2 - 1 Milan
Poli 14 (M), Toni 30, 53 (V)
Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi

Milan started the campaign with a shock 2-1 defeat in Verona, as Luca Toni’s brace of headers overturned Andrea Poli’s goal.

The Serie A 2013-14 season opener was at the Bentegodi, where the Rossoneri famously lost 5-3 to hand the 1974 Scudetto to Juventus in one of the League’s biggest ever shocks. Sulley Muntari was suspended with Kevin-Prince Boateng, Giampaolo Pazzini, Daniele Bonera, Riccardo Saponara, Luca Antonini, Bakaye Traore, Gabriel and Jherson Vergara injured. Hellas were without Alessandro Agostini and Daniele Ragatzu, but looked to summer signing Luca Toni.

Riccardo Montolivo aimed an early long-range effort over the bar and Mario Balotelli stung Rafael’s palms with a snapshot.

Andrea Poli broke the deadlock with his first goal for the club he has supported since childhood. The former Sampdoria midfielder ran on to a smart Balotelli through ball and kept his cool to burst between two defenders, sliding an angled drive past Rafael.

A dangerous Verona counter-attack was wasted by Romulo, who went for goal and saw his shot charged down by Philippe Mexes rather than roll across when it was three against two.

Hellas did draw level on the half-hour mark with their veteran hitman Toni, who rose above Kevin Constant at the back post to nod in a corner and send the Bentegodi crowd wild. It was the 36-year-old’s fifth career goal in an opening round of the Serie A season.

Toni’s shot from the D was parried haphazardly by Christian Abbiati, but scrambled out for a corner, as Verona grew into the game.

Milan confirmed their consistent problems defending from set plays, as straight after the restart Bosko Jankovic was allowed a free header from six yards that Abbiati palmed out from under the bar.

It was a warning they did not heed, as moments later Verona took the lead. Jankovic curled a free kick to the back post, where Cristian Zapata did not jump, and Toni nodded in despite Abbiati’s attempted save.

The Rossoneri had a series of shots charged down, including a Mexes overhead kick and Niang effort, while Abbiati punced a Martinho cross away from Toni on the counter.

Andrea Petagna was given his Serie A debut as Milan tried to turn the situation around, but Toni had penalty appeals for a tussle with the deeply disappointing Zapata, though he seemed to run into the back of the defender. Toni received a standing ovation at the Bentegodi when substituted.

Robinho came on for the final stages and Petagna was unable to get on the end of his ball across the face of goal. Riccardo Montolivo tested goalkeeper Rafael from distance with his snapshot, as did Balotelli with a long-range curler.

Maietta had to deflect Robinho’s assist over the bar from five yards before Petagna could tap-in, but at the other end Abbiati was at full stretch to fingertip a Daniele Cacia angled drive.

In the final minute Balotelli fell under a Moras nudge in the back and was so furious that he was booked for clearly insulting the referee.


Verona: Rafael; Cacciatore, Maietta, Moras, Albertazzi; Jorginho, Donati (Hallfredsson 84), Romulo; Jankovic, Toni (Cacia 84), Martinho (J Gomez 77)
Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant (Robinho 77); Poli, Montolivo, Nocerino; Niang (Emanuelson 64), Balotelli, El Shaarawy (Petagna 64)
Ref: Calvarese