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coppa italia : Pato 2 sampdoria 0

Sampdoria: Da Costa; Volta, Accardi, Zauri, Ziegler; Palombo, Poli (Tissone 65), Mannini (Koman 72), Guberti; Maccarone, Macheda

Milan: Roma; Yepes, Sokratis, Oddo, Antonini (Jankulovski 80); Van Bommel, Emanuelson, Thiago Silva; Merkel; Pato (Ibrahimovic 87), Robinho (Cassano 78)

The Rossoneri lined up in a 4-3-1-2, with 2 players making their Milan debut. Flavio Roma continued in goal, whilst Massimo Oddo and Sorkratis Papastathopoulos came in alongside Yepes and Antonini. In midfield, Thiago Silva continued in the anchoring role, whilst Urby Emmanuelson made his debut at the left of the middle 3, with Van Bommel making his debut alongside him. The front 3 consisted of youngster Alexander Merkel, Robinho, and Pato – meaning a well earned rest for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Milan’s first chance of the game fell to Alexander Merkel. After some wonderful play from new signing Urby Emmanuelson – playing a 1-2 with Robinho – the dutchman managed to find Alexander Merkel with a wonderful layoff, however, Merkel’s shot was pulled slightly wide as he opened up too much whilst taking the shot. An early warning sign for Sampdoria just 5 minutes in, though after all the excellent build up play, the shot was a bit of a let off.

Within 2 minutes, Robinho had the ball in the back of the net, but his goal was ruled out. After a volleyed attempt from Urby Emmanuelson, and a deflection off a Samdoria defender, the ball flew high up in to the air, and as it fell, Robinho latched on to it perfectly, volleying it cinlincally in to the bottom corner of the goal, just inside Da Costa’s far post. It was not to be though, the brazilian was standing in an offside position when the shot was taken, and the goal was correctly ruled out as a result.

Wih a quarter of an hour gone, Milan took the lead. The corner from Robino was played short to Emmanuelson, but the dutchman gave it back to Robinho, who volleyed it in to the box. After a bounce (which Sampdoria failed to cut out) Thiago Silva went up and challenged for the ball, and he managed to flick it on for Alexandre Pato, who volleyed it in to the bottom right corner with a stunning finish to cap off a well worked goal! The lead was a deserved one, Milan were looking fairly comfortable and the attack seemed fluid.

5 minutes later and The Rossoneri doubled their lead! Urby Emmanuelson did well to pick out Pato, but the real magic was yet to come. Receiving the ball from Emmanuelson, Pato managed to bring the ball forward, and use a bit of skill to nutmeg Accardi to get past him, before taking an extra touch or two and emphatically blasting the ball in to the back of the net! A stunning goal, and another sign of Milan’s domination, Pato was really enjoying himself out there!

Sampdoria’s first decent effort of the game from Kiko Macheda (on loan from Manchester United) the 19 year old Italian received the ball around 20 yards out, and powered a shot goalwards, but Roma managed to tip it over the bar relatively trouble free, and the pass to Macheda was slightly behind him making it more difficult, espcially with Papastathopoulos coming to pressurise him from the edge of the box.

The lead was almost cut down to 1 once again shortly after. Picking the ball up on the edge of the box, Macheda ran at the Milan defence, and managed to get a shot out quickly. As a result of it travelling low and fast, Roma only saw the ball late, but despite Macheda’s effort beating him – the Italian’s shot was not on target, going narrowly wide to keep Milan 2 goals ahead with 35 minutes on the clock.

Milan were pressing well all over the filed but it was Sampdoria who came closest to scoring next. After good work from Macheda, Guberti was able to get a shot away, however, his effort was blocked by Mario Yepes. This didn’t stop Sampdoria though – as the ball dropped, Kiko Macheda headed the ball on, and Massimo Maccarone reached and took a shot, but Sokratis Papastathopoulos came in with an excellent block and clearence to deny Sampdoria a goal, good brave defending from the greek.

The Rossoneri had one or two half chances to extend their lead before half time, but Pato’s effort went wide, Robinho only just reached the return ball from Pato in a 1-2 (and so missed) and Alexander’s Merkel wasn’t struck with enough conviction. With 2 players making their debut, and a bit of an injury crisis, you’d be forgiven for thinking Milan would struggle against Sampdoria, but the Rossoneri ended the first half on top, with a deserved 2 goal lead thanks to some exellent goals from Alexandre Pato.

After a mixed start to the second half, Sampdoria scored just 5 minutes in to open up the time again. Massimo Maccarone managed to get by Sokratis Papastathopoulos (however, this took place on the left flank where Luca Antonini should have been convering, Sokratis was just filling in), and played the ball in to the box, where Guberti managed to head the ball past Flavio Roma – who had no chance of saving the header from such a close range – to halve Milan’s lead. It came as something of a shock to Milan given how comfortable the Rossoneri had looked, but Sampdoria crafted the goal well.

Sampdoria were taking charge now, and taking the game to Milan. With 58 minutes on the clock, Kiko Macheda went down in the box claiming a penalty, but the ref correctly ignored Sampdoria’s protests. Milan immediately went down the other end though, culminating in Robinho dribbling in and taking on defenders from the left – the brazilian did well to get his strike on target at the near post, but Da Costa managed to punch it out for a corner.

With 15 minutes to go, the impressive Urby Emmanuelson picked up a knock, however he managed to recover, and that meant moments later that Antonini would be subbed off for the return of Marek Jankulovski moments later. Meanwhile, Antonio Cassano was brought on to make his return to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, coming on for Robinho, still in search of his first goal in a Rossoneri shirt, despite playign well and picking up a few crucial assists in his time at the club already. Alexandre Pato was denied the chance of a hat trick after he was taken off with 5 minutes to go, as Ibrahimovic was brought on to close out the game (in fairness, Pato had been quiet second half)

Despite having a quarter of an hour and more momentum, Sampdoria couldn’t muster up an equaliser – even with the 5 minutes of added time. Cassano almost had a dream return to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, but his effort from 20 yards out was not struck cleanly, and then the game fizzled out, meaning Milan secured their place in the Semi Final against Palermo. In a fairly confident display, Milan were the better side overall, even if Sampdoria shaded the second half, Milan were much better in the first, and thanks to Pato’s 2 great goals, they had their progress to the next round to show for it.

Best Moment: Pato’s second goal

Man of the Match: Pato, simply for winning the game for Milan.