Tag Archives: AC Milan





A late Stefano Denswil’s goal looked to have sealed the victory for the hosts but Mario Balotelli’s nerveless penalty earned a draw for the Serie A giants.

Rookie defender Denswil looked to have secured a fine triumph when he rose magnificently to power Danish substitute Lasse Schöne’s corner beyond the previously unbeatable Christian Abbiati. However, talisman Balotelli had other ideas. The former Manchester City striker, who had earlier hit the bar, was brought down by substitute Mike van der Hoorn. The Italian kept his cool as he calmly stroked in the spot kick with customary aplomb.

The Amsterdammers had much the better of the first half against a strangely lacklustre Milan side. The boisterous Amsterdam Arena crowd almost had a goal to cheer after only five minutes, but Icelandic striker Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, released by Lerin Duarte’s clever pass, shot against the goalkeeper’s legs.

Frank de Boer’s men continued to force Milan back into their own half, and left-back Daley Blind showed some fine footwork before slipping the ball to Danish youngster Viktor Fischer, who lashed an effort from 20 metres that only just evaded Abbiati’s left-hand post.

The first hint of an attack from the Rossoneri arrived on the half-hour mark, Kévin Constant managing to get in behind the Ajax back-line on the right, though his weak low cross was gathered comfortably by Jasper Cillessen. Back came Ajax, first with a Duarte free-kick that was palmed over by Abbiati and, seconds later, through a strike from Niklas Moisander that rose just too high.

After the half-time team talks, Massimiliano Allegri’s men began the second half a different team. Cillessen showed admirable reflexes to beat away Riccardo Montolivo’s close-range flick, then Balotelli’s free-kick cannoned off the wall and onto the roof of the net. The home side rallied, Sigthórsson heading Siem de Jong’s cross straight at Abbiati, though Balotelli came closest of all just after the hour. Cutting in from the left, he curled a beautiful shot that Cillessen tipped against the underside of the bar.

With the game seemingly heading towards a goaless draw, the last few minutes offered extraordinary drama. First Denswil’s header, his first goal for the club, sent the Amsterdam ArenA into an ecstasy replaced by agony when Balotelli coolly slotted in.



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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Ajax get tough draw


The Eredivisie defending champions Ajax have been drawn into the glamour group along with Barcelona, AC Milan and Glasgow Celtic.

20130818 - Ajax 2-1 Feyenoord

Progress from Group H will be a tough task for Frank de Boer’s side, especially after the impending departures of Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld this week.

The group is highlighted by Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, who will look to re-establish their European dominance under the new leadership of Argentine coach Gerardo Martino. It will be up to the new boss to guide the Blaugrana past Scottish champions Celtic. Neil Lennon’s side memorably upset Barca 2-1 in last season’s group stage last November with a dramatic late goal from Tony Watt.

PSV’s playoff conquers AC Milan will face Barca in a repeat of last year’s last sixteen clash, where the Spanish giants roared back from a 2-0 first leg loss to score four goals in the second leg and win 4-2 on aggregate.

The Group Stage matches will take place over the course of six matchdays beginning September 17th and concluding on December 11th. The top two teams from each Group will move on to the Round of 16, while the third place side will drop into the Europa League and the fourth placed club will be eliminated from European competition.

The Round of 16 will be played over two legs in February and March 2014, with the winners continuing on to a two-legged Quarterfinal in early April. The winners will march on to the Semifinals, which will be played in late April, before the winners head to the final at the Estadio de Luz in Lisbon, Portugal on May 24th, 2014.



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Goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng and Mario Balotelli ensured Serie A giants AC Milan disposed of PSV Eindhoven to reach the Champions League group stages with a 4-1 aggregate win on Wednesday evening.

Philip Cocu’s men had their fair share of chances inside the packed San Siro but the Italian’s goalkeeper Christian Abbiati made a string of good saves before and after Boateng’s opener. Balotelli extended the Rossoneri’s lead early in the second period and any hopes of a comeback disappeared for the young Dutch side, when Boateng added another with only 13 minutes remaining to seal a 3-0 win on the night.

Both sides began the contest with 4-3-3 formations and spaces were hard to find in the early stages of the game. The Eredivisie side created the first opportunity when Slovenian striker Tim Matavž forced Abbiati into an early diving save with a precise header after eight minutes. Just moments later Milan went a goal ahead when Boateng found the bottom corner of Jeroen Zoet’s goal with a powerful right-foot shot from outside the area.

PSV should have been level but another sprawling save by Abbiati denied the Eindhoven side an equaliser, after the goalkeeper palmed away a superb Adam Maher volley which seemed destined to score and steal the show.

The hosts continued to threaten a second goal with Riccardo Montolivo and Stephen El Shaarawy especially going close, with a powerful shot that cannoned off the crossbar.

Milan were saved by the woodwork also after 41 minutes with a cross-cum-shot by left-abck Jetro Willems. PSV had another glorious opening to equalise immediately after the interval as a low cross from the left eluded everybody to reach the unmarked Georginio Wijnaldum at the far post but Abbiati somehow blocked the PSV captain’s close-range effort.

In the 55th minute, Milan made that Abbiati save count as the Italians went further ahead to concrete their victory. French defender Philippe Mexès headed an El Shaarawy’s corner across the goal for Balotelli to volley home.

Abbiati’s night finished with a fine save from a Stijn Schaars’s dangerous shot, and Boateng finalised the result with a precise low shot at the far post following a fine counterattack involving Balotelli and Andrea Poli.

PSV now drop into Friday’s Europa League draw as a consolation, a trophy they must be in a great chance of winning with this young powerful outfit.



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PSV vs. AC MILAN: A rivarly

It’s an unlikely rivalry, that between PSV and AC Milan. It’s born of neither geography, with the seats of Eindhoven and Milan situated nearly six-hundred miles apart, nor of over-familiarity, with the clubs competing on just five occasions all-time. However, when the two stalwarts of European football met last week, it was clear to see that this is no ordinary fixture. In actuality, it was the latest renewal of a footballing epic.

The roots of this contemporary feud can be traced to the Spring of 2005. In a lucrative Champions League semi-final, the two clubs, enjoying relative glory periods, would meet. The first leg, played at a packed San Siro, saw PSV control vast portions of the play but succumb to incisive Rossoneri breaks in the dying embers of each half. A goal from Andriy Shevchenko on the stroke of half-time, and a late strike from Jon-Dahl Tomasson left Guus Hiddink and his side starring up at an undeserved mountain.

In a throbbing second leg encounter, they began to climb. The Phillips Stadion, bedecked with colour and ferocious with noise, experienced a night quite unlike any other in its considerable history. After ten minutes, Ji-Sung Park ran on to a loose ball and opportunistically thumped it high into the net. Liftoff!

When Phillip Cocu, former midfield maestro and current PSV manager, rose to nod home a Lee-Young Pyo cross in the second half, Eindhoven rejoiced. It was a moment, an achievement, which encapsulated an entire era of PSV glory; this team of heroes fighting back to earn parity with one of European football’s defining powerhouses. In a surreal, dreamlike state, PSV had Milan on the ropes.

A cruel, 89th minute twist was the seminal moment in this heartfelt rivalry. As PSV looked for the knockout punch, a crowning moment to cap a performance of raw ambition, it came at the other end. A sluggish Milan kept the ball so as to insure extra-time. However, when Mauro Ambrosini ghosted in to flick a hopeful cross past the despairing dive of Heurelho Gomes, PSV hearts were broken. The pivotal away goal earned Milan a date with Liverpool in Istanbul, and rendered Phillip Cocu’s late acrobatic half-volley a mere consolation. In the gloom of crushing defeat, Eindhoven had a new nemesis.

I remember only select vignettes from that fateful night; it came in the embryonic stages of my PSV fandom. For instance, I vividly recall Cocu’s towering leap to plunge home the equaliser. I also remember Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink flicking a Van Bommel free-kick against the bar. These memories have become bittersweet in recent years. The frenzied atmosphere and the exceptional display from Hiddink’s team are still sources of pride, but the images of Ambrosini collapsed in celebration provide a chilling reminder of the end result. In whatever manner you look at that fixture, it pulls on the heartstrings.

Even though the two clubs would meet again in the 2005/06 group stages, where a sweet 1-0 victory for PSV in Eindhoven was coupled with a credible 0-0 draw in Italy, last Tuesday saw the most meaningful renewal in the conflict. A place in the Champions League Group Stages lay as the reward. In Eindhoven, talk of “revenge” was fresh in the air; fans taking great confidence in this young team and its sensational start to the season. Whilst PSV were seen by many as the “underdogs,” an undercurrent of belief manifested itself in a fantastic atmosphere for the first leg. Eindhoven was ready for another big European night.

The performance of PSV was admirable. In the glare of a large television audience right across the continent, the youngsters represented the club with true pride; a display of explosive excitement rekindling all those memories from eight years ago. A rip-roaring start saw Adam Maher, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Jetro Willems test the reflexes of Milan ‘keeper Abbiati. Cocu’s men were playing lively, attacking football with intricate passing combinations and raw pace. They were dominating.

In these games, it seems obligatory for a brutal twist of fate. Just as you begin to rise from your seat with greater regularity, expecting wave-after-wave of PSV pressure to result in a goal, Milan punch you in the gut. A shrewd breakaway, one of Milan’s very first of the tie, saw full-back Ignazio Abate exploit the defensive naivety of Memphis Depay before crossing for Stephan El Shaarawy to nod home into the far corner. Another Milan away goal in front of the Phillips Stadion Oost Staan.

If anybody thought that this team of energetic youngsters was about to lie down and give-up, they were sorely mistaken. Even after Mario Balotelli crashed a shot against the bar, PSV regained a measure of composure and began pressing for an equaliser. Adam Maher, ubiquitous in a play-making role, again worked Abbiati, before crunching his own shot off the woodwork. In a breathless and thoroughly-entertaining first-half, Cocu’s men did everything except score.

After so much exquisite football, unpicking the Milan defence with deft passing and movement, PSV’s eventual equaliser was drenched in irony. As Milan became more compact in midfield, space was at a premium. Thus, when found open some forty yards from goal, Jeffrey Bruma decided to just thumpn the ball. It swerved in the air, causing Abbiati to fumble. Tim Matavz arrived to prod home a richly-deserved equaliser, sending the PSV masses into delirium. The game trickled to a fairly calm end, with the tie balanced precariously at 1-1 heading to Italy.

At this stage of the season, we continue to learn a lot about this new-look PSV. In matching, and even dominating, Milan for periods during the first leg, a major milestone in the Cocu Revolution was achieved. The manager was using this tie to measure the progress of his developing squad, stating that “it give us a chance to compare ourselves to a great team.” The players came-of-age, a rock-solid bond between Bruma and Karim Rekik emblematic of a maturing PSV rising to a daunting challenge. On PSV’s biggest European night for five years, a sense of pride was restored.

The experts are wrong to dismiss PSV’s chances in the second leg. This is a tie which can change entirely with just one goal, and PSV have scored in thirty-four consecutive games. Furthermore, the Dutch giants dominated the first leg in periods, showcasing football which had Milan hanging by a thread. Nobody should underestimate the potential of this PSV side.

As the excitement builds ahead of Wednesday’s clash, PSV fans are in buoyant mood; they believe in another European fairytale. After all, anything can happen when rivals meet.


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Miracle if Eriksen does not move to England next week

Dutch journalist Jaap de Groot, whom writes for De Telegraaf, has stated that it will be a ‘miracle’ if Ajax’s Christian Eriksen does not move to an English Premier League club this coming week.

Now the transfer window is closing and the clubs across Europe start to panic buy, De Groot assumes that Eriksen will leave Ajax this coming week: “The signs are showing now that a miracle must happen if the Dane not move to England over the next week. Perhaps to Liverpool, but another club could steal in to take him.”

Over the summer, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool have been strongly linked to the Danish international but it is understood that Tottenham Hotspur have also been involved in talks with Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars over a transfer.

It is no secret that Manchester United is also in the hunt for a central midfielder. David Moyes has asked his old club Everton to allow Belgian international Marouane Fellani move to Old Trafford after already rejecting a bid from Moyes. The Toffees chairman Bill Kenwright rejected the joint bid for Fellani and Leighton Baines earlier this week, so Moyes may have look elsewhere. Anyone who has watched Eriksen in his time at Ajax would agree that the Dane would fit right in behind Robin van Persie.

However only yesterday, it was reported in Italy that Serie A giants AC Milan have joined the race for Eriksen after the player turned down a move to Germany with Bayer Leverkusen this past week.

Milan have turned to the Ajax playmaker after admitting defeat in their pursuit of CSKA Moscow’s Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda, while AS Roma are also thought to be contemplating a bid if they lose Argentine midfielder Erik Lamela to Tottenham.

According to MilanNews.it, Italy, Spain and England remain the only likely destinations for the Dane, who has ruled out moves to Germany and Russia, despite strong interest from Leverkusen and Zenit St Petersburg. The website reports that Eriksen is open to a move to Italy after spending his recent summer holidays in Venice.

As previously stated, Eriksen reportedly wants Champions League football, a demand that would appear to rule out a move to Spurs and Liverpool.

That would appear to leave Manchester United or Milan in pole position for Eriksen providing the Italians are able to progress to the competition’s group stages this Wednesday night after drawing 1-1 with PSV in the first leg of their qualifying match last Tuesday.

Milan’s move for Honda has been one of the most protracted sagas of the off-season, but both sides now appear to have reached an impasse.

Juventus, who have automatically qualified for the Champions League group stages, were also previously credited with a move for Eriksen but AC Milan could beat their Serie A rivals to the 21-year-old’s signature as soon as next Wednesday when the second leg of their play-off against PSV takes place at the San Siro.

Wherever his destination, his assists, key passes, set-piece plays and powerful shooting will add something special to any team across the globe but the defending Eredivisie champions Ajax will miss him terribly. The Dane has already notched two goals in four games this campaign, even though the Amsterdammers have dropped points to currently sit fourth in the division.


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Once again the all-new Phillip Cocu PSV team showed great maturity and went onto record a more than well-deserved draw against Serie A giants AC Milan in the first leg of their Champions League play-off.

The Eredivisie side dominated throughout the first-half, hitting the woodwork and forcing Milan ‘keeper Christian Abbiati into several vital stops. Yet against the run of play, the only goal of the half came courtesy of a Stephan El Shaarawy header. Slovenian striker Tim Matavž restored parity on the hour mark to leave the contest wide open ahead of the second-leg battle at the San Siro next Wednesday.

The Eindhoven side nearly went 1-0 up in the opening minutes when Adam Maher touched Matavž’s shot a fraction wide of the Milan goal. Abbiati was kept busy as the Milan keeper saved from Georginio Wijnaldum before Cristián Zapata deflected young left-back Jetro Willems’ strong on-target drive behind.

Unfortunately for Cocu’s men, Milan took the lead with their first attack. Ignazio Abate overpowered Memphis Depay and crossed for the unmarked El Shaarawy to head home leaving goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet helpless. Moments after, Zoet was called into action again as he tipped Mario Balotelli’s effort onto the bar.

However, it was still Abbiati who was the busier between the sticks, the 36-year-old making two great saves from Maher as Phillip Cocu’s side pressed for an equaliser. The lively PSV playmaker then crashed a shot against the crossbar from just inside the area after outmuscling the bigger frame of Zapata.

The midfielder trio of Stijn Schaars, Park Ji-Sung and Wijnaldum held the AC Milan midfield at bay and the latter getting forward at every opportunity and stringing some tremendous passing around. Linking up well with wingers Depay and Maher and later, Florian Jozefzoon.

PSV - AC Milan

Milan emerged for the second-half looking stronger and only a superb interception by Willems at the back post prevented El Shaarawy from doubling the score. The young lions of PSV responded by giving the Rossoneri a taste of their own medicine and scoring on the counter attack. Abbiati could not hold central defender Jeffrey Bruma’s 35-yard swerving shot and the previously quiet Matavž happily nodded in the rebound.

Milan almost forced a winner in the closing stages, but Zoet made a fine save from substitute Andrea Poli to keep the level. PSV will be the unhappier of the two sides, as the chances missed inside the first period could have seen them home and dry.



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20130807 - PSV

PSV face AC Milan in a Champions League preliminary round match-up to decide who makes it through to the group stages of Europe’s elite competition, and a tight game is expected between two sides that are no stranger to high profile continental clashes.

Both sides have won the Champions League before, PSV winning the trophy in 1988 while AC Milan have lifted the European Cup seven times, most recently in 2007. The sides last met in European competition at the semi-final stage in 2005, when an Massimo Ambrosini goal sent the Rossoneri through to the Champions League final.

Despite losing star players like Kevin Strootman and Dries Mertens, PSV have built their team around a youth philosophy managed by former PSV and Barcelona star Philip Cocu.


Zoet; Arias, Bruma, Rekik, Willems; Wijnaldum, Hiljemark, Maher; Jozefzoon, Locadia, Depay.


Abbiati, Abate, Zapata, Silvestre, Constant, De Jong, Montolivo, Poli, Boateng, El Shaarawy, Balotelli.

Player to watch: Stephan El Shaarawy

While all eyes will be on Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy comes off a sharp pre-season and will look to start the 2013-14 season in the same manner he began the 2012-13 one. Pacy, hard-working with excellent technique and flair, “Il Faraone” could benefit from Balotelli attracting defensive attention and become Milan’s matchwinner on Tuesday.

Prediction: PSV 1-2 AC MILAN

Milan should get a scare from PSV who will be sharper and fitter due to already starting the Eredivisie season three weeks ago, while Massimiliano Allegri’s side may still be a little rusty. However, experience and quality should show through, and Milan are expected to have too much for their largely inexperienced opponents.


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