Sulley Muntari scored on his Milan debut in a confident 3-1 victory away to Cesena, as Urby Emanuelson and Robinho were also on target.
The Rossoneri’s enthusiasm was sky high again after beating Udinese and then a midweek 4-0 demolition of Arsenal in the Champions League. They were still at the centre of an injury crisis, though, as Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alessandro Nesta, Philippe Mexes, Clarence Seedorf, Rodney Strasser, Alexander Merkel, Mario Yepes, Gennaro Gattuso, Alberto Aquilani and Antonio Cassano were out. Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued his three-match ban, so Maxi Lopez partnered Robinho.
Cesena missed Djokovic, Vangelis Moras and Steve Von Bergen, but above all needed a boost after throwing away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at 10-man Lazio.
Muntari received his Milan debut after moving on loan from Inter in January. With practically his first touch the Ghanaian smashed a long-range effort not far off target. Moments later he went even closer, spinning round from nine yards to drill wide.
Urby Emanuelson stung Francesco Antonioli’s palms with a left-foot strike from distance. The Dutchman’s first-time pass sent Massimo Ambrosini clear through the middle, but fired straight at the goalkeeper from point-blank range.
It was a siege on the Cesena goal from the very start, though after 15 minutes Cesena began to emerge from their own half.
Muntari marked his debut with the opening goal. Thiago Silva’s fierce free kick bounced off Antonioli’s chest into the path of the midfielder for a tap-in from a couple of yards.
Moments later it was 2-0, as Emanuelson gathered from Robinho and smashed a powerful long-range left-foot shot past Antonioli.
Cesena finally had their first effort on target when Christian Abbiati turned Vincenzo Iaquinta’s header out for a corner. They changed their tactics so Adrian Mutu became the trequartista behind Iaquinta.
Antonio Nocerino struck the side-netting from a tight angle. Just 40 seconds after the restart, Gianluca Comotto’s ball over the top found Mutu totally unmarked, but the Romanian’s header was over the bar.
Mario Alberto Santana won back possession to roll across for Iaquinta, but the former Juventus striker scuffed his finish, as Cesena were far more attacking in this second half.
However, it was Milan who got the goal, as Robinho sprung the offside trap and beat the goalkeeper with an angled drive. He was in acres of space through the middle of the Cesena defence from Ignazio Abate’s pass. The Rossoneri players went to the touchline to celebrate with Gianluca Zambrotta, as it was his birthday.
Mutu did get the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed for an offside position.
Cesena finally got one back with January signing Daniel Pudil’s debut Serie A goal. A poor Daniele Bonera clearance on the cross from the right fell to Pudil on the edge of the box and his angled half-volley bounced in front of Abbiati on its way into the far bottom corner.
Iaquinta’s powerful free kick whistled just over the crossbar, but Stephan El Shaarawy came off the bench and almost immediately pounced on a defensive error, but his finish from a tight angle was deflected over the bar by Antonioli’s shoulder as the goalkeeper bravely rushed off his line.
Cesena had a great scoring opportunity on 82 minutes, as Iaquinta sprung the offside trap on a Mutu chipped pass and his splendid volley was well beaten away by an alert Abbiati.
Pippo Inzaghi got a run-out in stoppages for Milan and very nearly scored, turning just wide under pressure.
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