Milan halt Juventus charge

AC Milan ended Juventus’ 100% league record in style with a 3-1 victory over the Serie A leaders on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side blew away the reigning champions with three first-half goals as Milan recorded their seventh straight win and cut Juve’s lead to just two points.

Clarence Seedorf’s deflected drive put Milan ahead before Kaka’s unstoppable half-volley and an Andrea Pirlo free-kick left Juve on their knees at the interval.

David Trezeguet pulled one back for the visitors in the 76th minute.

Juve, who won their first nine matches for the best start to date in Serie A, have 27 points from their 10 matches played, while second-placed Milan have 25.

Inter Milan are eight points off the pace in third place after they were held to a 2-2 draw at Sampdoria in the day’s early match.

Seedorf said his goal was the key to victory as it forced Juventus, whose mean defence had conceded just two league goals before the match, to open up.

“It gave us the upper hand and meant Juventus couldn’t just sit back,” said the 29-year-old Netherlands international. “There was more space, particularly down the wings, and we made the most of the chances. Our defence were excellent, too.
It showed that we are at least on a par with Juve.”

French midfielder Patrick Vieira returned to Juventus’ starting line-up after recovering from a groin strain, while third-choice goalkeeper Antonio Chimenti was handed the gloves in the absence of injured pair Gianluigi Buffon and Christian Abbiati.

Juve captain Alessandro Del Piero made way for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who partnered Trezeguet in attack.

Milan’s leading striker Andriy Shevchenko, injured in a Champions League match 10 days ago, failed to even make the bench.

Juventus fell behind in the 13th minute to the delight of the vast majority of the 80 000 fans packed into the San Siro.

Seedorf cut in from the left and exchanged passes with Alberto Gilardino before shooting right-footed from 20 yards. The Dutchman’s effort wasn’t particularly well struck, but it clipped Vieira’s outstretched toe and looped over Chimenti.

Capitalising on every Juve error and moving the ball upfield with speed and precision, Milan underlined their superiority in the 26th minute.

Pirlo’s free kick caused panic in the Juve defence and Brazilian midfielder Kaka hooked the loose ball into the top corner.

Juve’s hopes of a comeback were extinguished a minute before half-time.

Chimenti appeared to have Pirlo’s 25-yard free kick covered, but he allowed the ball to escape his grasp and Juve went in at the break with a mountain to climb.

Milan, whose defeat in the same fixture last season practically handed Juve the title, were caught napping 14 minutes from time when Trezeguet raced on to Vieira’s sublime chip and goalkeeper Nelson Dida let the Frenchman’s half-volley slip through his fingers.

The goal proved to be a momentary blip for Milan, who have been in imperious form after taking just four points from their first three matches.

In the early match in Genoa, Aimo Diano struck twice for Sampdoria only for Esteban Cambiasso and Ivan Cordoba to reply for the visitors, with all the goals coming before half-time.

Inter, beaten 3-2 by Roma on Wednesday, pushed hard for an equaliser but Sampdoria came closest to sneaking victory when Emiliano Bonazzoli’s header struck the crossbar six minutes from time.—Sapa-AFP

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