Goian goal sees Palermo punish Milan
AC Milan lost crucial points in the race for the Scudetto tonight, going down 1-0 at Palermo and giving city rivals Inter Milan the opportunity to narrow the gap at the top of the table to just two points tomorrow.
Dorin Goian scored the only goal of the game in the tenth minute as the Sicilians won their first game under Serse Cosmi after two defeats since he replaced Delio Rossi. The win lifts I Rosaneri up to seventh and back into the hunt for a place in Europe next season.
League leaders Milan played the first of three games without their influential striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and they clearly lacked ideas in attack. Palermo's much-maligned defence was therefore saved from a torrid night at the Renzo Barbera, and one of their back three was even able to score the winner.
Goian was left in an onside position by Mark van Bommel after Giulio Migliaccio headed the ball inside the six-yard box, and the giant central defender turned and volleyed the ball into the roof of Christian Abbiati's goal to give the home side the lead in the tenth minute.
Scoring so early was not the best of ideas for Palermo, who spent much of the rest of the game defending their lead. Alessandro Nesta almost replied instantly for Milan, but he was not able to get a touch at the far post as he lunged at a low ball across the face of goal.
The Sicilians had their own chances on the break, though, with a backheeled pass from Mauricio Pinilla setting up Javier Pastore, who shot wide of the far post. Roles were reversed in the 32nd minute with Pastore this time setting up Pinilla with a backheel, but the Chilean's shot from 20 yards was saved.
Antonio Cassano missed Milan's best chance of the first half in the 32nd minute when he blazed his shot wide of the near post with only Salvatore Sirigu to beat. Milan laid siege to the Palermo goal in the second half, but did not manage to find a way through.
The closest they came was in the 66th minute when Mathieu Flamini's shot was pushed away by Sirigu, and in the 79th minute, when Sirigu made another save to push away Gennaro Gattuso's header.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri admitted that his team missed suspended striker Ibrahimovic. "We didn't play well in the first half and we made many mistakes in the final third," he said. "In the second half we did better, we created a few chances but we weren't very clinical.
"We'll kick on from here. We started with a five-point advantage and we'll see what Inter and Napoli do. Ibrahimovic is important for us but tonight we needed to do more. We didn't do it but we'll analyse it calmly, knowing that at the end of the weekend we'll still be top."