AC Milan 3 - 1 Fiorentina
AC Milan 3-1 Fiorentina
|Andriy Shevchenko (20)||Luca Toni (12)|
|Ivan Gennaro Gattuso (60)|
|Stadium: San Siro, Italy |
Match Time: 13:30 ET
Gianluca Paparesta (Referee)
|1 Dida||22 Bogdan Lobont|
|13 Alessandro Nesta||26 Giuseppe Pancaro|
|5 Alessandro Costacurta||2 Per Kroldrup|
|4 Kakha Kaladze||21 Tomas Ujfalusi|
|8 Ivan Gennaro Gattuso||19 Luis Antonio Garces Jimenez|
|27 Serginho||23 Manuel Pasqual|
|20 Clarence Seedorf||10 Stefano Fiore|
|21 Andrea Pirlo||20 Martin Jorgensen|
|22 Kaká||18 Riccardo Montolivo|
|9 Filippo Inzaghi||32 Christian Brocchi|
|7 Andriy Shevchenko||30 Luca Toni|
|16 Zeljko Kalac||Gianluca Berti 99|
|3 Paolo Maldini||Alessandro Gamberini 5|
|17 Dario Simic||Enrique Mateo 16|
|10 Manuel Rui Costa||Davide Brivio 14|
|18 Marek Jankulovski||Andrea Paolucci 6|
|14 Johann Vogel||Valeri Bojinov 8|
|11 Alberto Gilardino||Giampaolo Pazzini 29|
|Paolo Maldini for Alessandro
Bojinov for Luis Antonio
Garces Jimenez (64)|
Costa for Andriy
||Giampaolo Pazzini for Luca Toni
|· Club Rosters: AC Milan | Fiorentina|
Updated: March 25, 2006, 4:51 PM ETMILAN, March 25 (Serie A) - AC Milan avenged their 3-1 defeat in Florence with an identical scoreline to claim three points over Fiorentina at the San Siro on Saturday night and gave their fans a glimmer of hope of catching Juventus.
Luca Toni and Andriy Shevchenko have both played a major role in their respective side's successes this season and they were both on the scoresheet in the first half.
Toni gave Fiorentina the lead after 13 minutes and Shevchenko hit back after 20.
The parity was broken two minutes into the second half when Kaka headed in for Milan, whose recovery was completed by Gennaro Gattuso's strike on the hour mark.
The win provided the ideal preparation for Milan's Champions League quarter-final against Lyon on Tuesday, particularly as Paolo Maldini ended a lengthy injury absence with a 15 minute run-out at the end.
And with Juve dropping two points at home to Roma, the Serie A title is a dream which may just have been revived as the Rossoneri are eight points behind.
The game was billed as the battle between Serie A's top two strikers, and the protagonists did not disappoint.
Toni entered the match leading the race for the golden boot award with 24 goals while Andriy Shevchenko on 18 goals was still on the trail of the current Capocannonieri.
But the gap between the two increased after 13 minutes as Toni scored his 25th goal of the season to put Fiorentina ahead.
After a good spell of Milan pressure when Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi both went close, Fiorentina were awarded a free-kick on the right wing.
Manuel Pasqual swung the ball in with his left foot and it was headed back across goal by Tomas Ujfalusi to Toni, who struggled, but managed to bundle the ball over the line from close range.
Such has been the excellence of Toni's season that the strike left him one short of Gabriel Batistuta's record at Fiorentina.
Milan's reply was not long in coming and it was the Ukrainian striker, who has netted nine goals in the calendar year 2006, who started and finished the move.
Having beaten Riccardo Montolivo and Per Billeskov Kroldrup in midfield to set the ball rolling, he moved into a position at the far post to receive the ball from Andrea Pirlo and strike home.
Bogdan Lobont and Giuseppe Pancaro both committed themselves too early, allowing Shevchenko to switch the ball onto his left foot and fire in from a tight angle, beating Lobont at his near post.
It was the least Milan deserved for their constant domination of the game, but with Toni lingering dangerously at the other end, the game was still on a knife edge.
Kaka came close to easing the tension with an acrobatic effort from 10 yards which Lobont parried to safety and both sides went into the interval all square.
The Brazilian needed just two minutes of the second half to put the home side ahead, however.
Just one month short of his 40th birthday, Alessandro Costacurta is still a key component of the Milan side and the team captain provided an inviting cross for Kaka to head expertly into the bottom corner from 15 yards.
Nevertheless, Toni was still a threat for Fiorentina and the one-goal advantage still looked slender as the Italian striker tested Dida with a 20-yard drive which was punched to safety.
Gattuso is notorious for taking matters into his own hands and he provided the two-goal cushion which came as a huge relief to the majority of the 64,700 fans at the San Siro.
The tenacious midfielder opted to shoot diagonally from 25 yards and his choice was a good one as the ball only had one destination when it left his right foot, and Lobont could do little but divert it into the back of his goal.
The Milan fans had another reason to celebrate when the news was conveyed that Roma had equalised against Juventus, reducing the gap between the two sides at the top of Serie A.