Milan saved by Alessandro Nesta’s brilliance and an unlikely helping hand
You could see this one coming a mile off. With the eyes of the world upon them and the Champions League theme tune ringing in their ears Milan, as usual, raised their game to record a famous victory at Real Madrid. Authentic Prada Shoes Outlet With the eyes of less than 20,000 locals upon them and the sound of Stadio Bentegodi’s tinny PA system ringing in their ears at Chievo, Milan, as usual, bottled it.
Or at least, everyone thought they had. Eighty minutes into last night’s game, Milan trailed 1-0 and seemed to be running out of ideas. Outplayed in the first half, the Rossoneri had dominated the second, but the Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino had been equal to everything. Having already taken off an out-of-sorts Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and replaced him Authentic Prada Handbags For Cheap with Marco Borriello, Leonardo played the only card left to him by sending on Pippo Inzaghi for Ronaldinho. And then Alessandro Nesta intervened.
Nesta’s form this season has been such that more than one observer has noted that it is as if Apertura Outlet Prada Montevarchi Baby Prada Shoes Uk he had never been away, but even before he spent the last year rehabilitating chronic back problems, the defender had never had an afternoon quite like this one. In the 81st minute he headed in the equaliser after Borriello hit the crossbar; then, in injury-time, he got the winner, again with his head, from a corner. To put that into perspective, he had previously scored a total of four goals in 16 seasons in Serie A and never twice in the same match.
“I never score,” exclaimed Nesta after the final whistle had blown, but even then to focus only on his goals would be to overlook his greater contribution. As he has been all season, Nesta was the foundation stone around which the whole team was built, his understanding of the game and enduring speed allowing him to compensate for team-mates’ shortcomings.
As Leonardo Authentic Prada Handbags Usa adjusted his team into a 4-2-1-3 in pursuit of goals, Nesta increasingly stepped up to ensure Andrea Pirlo’s Authentic Prada Bags For Sale Philippines tiring legs were not exposed in midfield; when Thiago Silva stumbled and fell while tracking a Chievo counter-attack with the score still 1-0, it was Nesta who chased down Sergio Pellissier and stopped him getting a shot on goal. Silva, in particular, has much to thank Nesta for. While the Brazilian centre-back has mostly done well for Milan this season, this is not the first time Nesta has got him off the hook.
That Nesta should be playing this well at 33 is impressive enough in its own right, but in the context of his recent injury history it is nothing short of astounding. More than once in the past year he publicly mooted retirement and never more seriously than in February, when, within weeks of returning from several months’ rehabilitation work in Miami, he once again found himself unable to run without severe pain. Instead of quitting, he underwent surgery to remove a bulging disc, and made his first appearance of the season in Milan’s final game of the season – a 2-0 win over Fiorentina. Even after that game, there were reports over the summer that he was considering packing it in.
Nesta’s form since then has been such that some pundits have called for him to reconsider his international retirement. It is hard to disagree that he would be a valuable addition to Marcello Lippi’s Best Prada Outlet In Italy squad, but the player is having none of it. “I don’t want to put my body under too much stress,” said Nesta after the game. “Lippi knows how I feel, we understand each other.”
But Nesta was not the only hero for Milan, but the other man taking the plaudits this morning would have been far harder to predict before kick-off. Authentic Prada Bags Outlet Online Nelson Dida, whose calamitous error gave Real Madrid their first goal in midweek, and who started shakily again yesterday, made a stunning one-handed sale save to keep out a close-range header from Pablo Granoche with the score still 1‑1.
“He has a remarkable ability to put a huge mistake behind him and move on,” chirped Leonardo afterwards, ignoring the obvious ‘well he’d have to’ gag, and instead delivering an entirely unconvincing statement of support in the goalkeeper. “Besides, the situation is clear: with [Marco] Storari and [Christian] Abbiati injured, I have faith in Dida.”
The win – Milan’s third second-half comeback in eight days, puts them level with fourth-placed Palermo and fifth-placed Fiorentina on Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Sale Uk 15 points. The performances may need to become Best Prada Outlet In Milan a little more steady than this, though, before the fans start having real faith in Leonardo.
• Bari continued their impressive start to the season with a 2-0 win over Lazio that moves them up to seventh, just a point behind Milan. I have to admit I was sceptical of the team’s decision to part ways with Antonio Conte – though I recognise he had not made life easy for the club with his own refusal to commit early in the summer – but Giampiero Ventura has done a really good job instilling a rugged, defence-minded approach that has seen them concede only five goals in their first nine games. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top when they play fellow new-boys Parma, who have just as many points so far, on Wednesday.
• “It’s nice to get right up there against a tough team to find out what we can really do,” said the new Bologna coach Franco Colomba after replacing Giuseppe Papadopulo this week. His team then lost 4-1 to Sampdoria. Well, at least now he knows.
• Giampaolo Pazzini, incidentally, was playing in that game wearing the most aggressively personalised face mask I’ve yet seen on a football pitch, after having his nose broken by Fernando Muslera during last week’s draw with Lazio. Here it is, if you hadn’t seen it already.
• Serse Cosmi got off to a rather better start than Colomba after he was appointed as Livorno’s coach on Tuesday. A 1-0 victory at Roma represented not only a first win of the season for the Amaranto, but also a first away success against the Giallorossi for 62 years. Oh, and they did it despite playing the last 25 minutes with 10 men.
• After helping Internazionale to a 2-1 home win over Catania on Saturday, Javier Zanetti has now played every one of Inter’s last 139 games in Serie A and the Champions League. There haven’t been a lot of bad performances in there either.
Results: Atalanta 3-1 Parma, Bari 2-0 Lazio, Cagliari 3-2 Genoa, Chievo 1-2 Milan, Fiorentina 0-1 Napoli, Inter 2-1 Catania, Palermo 1-0 Udinese, Roma 0-1 Livorno, Sampdoria 4-1 Bologna, Siena 0-1 Juventus.
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