Robinho penalty sees Milan stun Juve
MILAN (AFP) –
AC Milan produced their best performance of the season to secure a 1-0 win over Juventus thanks to a fortunate first-half penalty which handed the champions only their second defeat of the campaign.
Milan suffered a scare when ‘keeper and captain Christian Abbiati was forced off with a back injury from the warm-up and was replaced by Marco Amelia.
But two days after club owner Silvio Berlusconi had visited their training ground for a serious talk with the players, the Rossoneri put the setback behind them to dominate Juve all over the park.
Although Juve rallied in the second half Milan held on to secure a result which lifted them to eighth in the table.
The result relieved the huge pressure on coach Massimiliano Allegri, but the Milan coach admitted Robinho’s 31st minute penalty had been fortunate.
“From the touchline I thought it was the right decision but after seeing the pictures I don’t think it was a penalty,” said Allegri.
“But independently of that decision we gave it everything, the boys were committed and really strong in our own half.
“I’m happy for the fans, for the club, and for the players.”
Juventus assistant coach Angelo Alessio admitted his players had come up short.
“When you play as we did tonight, you expose yourself to defeat,” said Alessio, the stand-in coach while Antonio Conte serves a lengthy ban.
“Apart from the controversy (over the penalty), we know we have to do better and, above all, be more committed than we were tonight.
“We accept the defeat, and will go away and work harder to make amends.”
Almost to a man, Milan were putting in the extra yard to shut down Juve, whose best chance of the opening period came when Fabio Quagliarella turned and shot from 20 metres only for Amelia to collect easily.
A Stephan El Shaarawy shot was then blocked as he wound up from 20 metres and on the half-hour the 20-year-old striker hit a weak effort that Buffon caught.
A minute later the referee pointed to the spot after an apparent handball in the area by Chilean Mauricio Isla as El Shaarawy rose for a cross.
Although Buffon did well to get his hand to Robinho’s spot-kick he could not stop it hitting the back of the net.
To their credit, Juve began the second half in more positive fashion and had Milan on the ropes for spells but were often left frustrated with the end product.
Alessio replaced Quagliarella with Sebastian Giovinco in the 57th minute and Juve came close to levelling.
Pirlo’s header back into the area following a poor clearance found striker Mirko Vucinic close in but his shot went well over the bar and then Vidal’s effort from the right was caught easily by Amelia.
Juve were beginning to threaten and when Vidal’s cross from the right found Giovinco unmarked in front of goal the little striker’s bicycle kick went wide of Amelia’s upright.
Allegri replaced Robinho with Pazzini and following another interception El Shaarawy powered down the left on 75 minutes but saw his cross for Pazzini bundled out for a corner.
In the closing period Juve kept the pressure on and Milan survived a huge scare when Constant blocked Vucinic’s shot from Giovinco’s pass.
A minute later Vucinic’s strike forced Amelia to parry the ball for a corner, from which the keeper was forced into a two-fisted save which frayed Milan nerves.
Juve kept pressing and had claims for a penalty in the dying minutes when Giovinco, clear on goal, was hauled down by Amelia. However the ‘Atomic Ant’ had already been ruled offside.