Milan rescue point after a struggle in Sardinia

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Mario Balotelli scored a penalty to give Milan a share of the spoilsAssociatedMario Balotelli scored a penalty to give Milan a share of the spoils

Some things in football are inevitable. Lionel Messi will score goals and break records, Ignazio Abate will find anyone but a team-mate with a cross, but most importantly, Mario Balotelli will convert penalties. Fortunately for Milan, who were far from being at their best in the 1-1 draw with Cagliari on Sunday 'Super Mario' didn't disappoint as he maintained his 100% record from the spot.

- Highlights: Cagliari 1-1 AC Milan (UK and Ire)

It was apparent even before a ball had been kicked that this would be a struggle in Sardinia. A midfield trio comprising of Mathieu Flamini, Massimo Ambrosini and Sulley Muntari sent out to destroy rather than create did little to ease the pre-match concerns, while the defensive duo at the heart of the Milan back four were made to look ordinary.

With Stephan El Shaarawy enduring somewhat of a dry spell in his break-out season, the onus fell on Balotelli and Mbaye Niang to deliver. Both produced solid displays, but more was needed and it failed to arrive off the bench through the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng and Bojan.

Boateng continues to test the patience of most Milan fans, with his cameo appearance scattered with errant passes and wayward shots. Aside from tweeting regular photos with his partner Melissa Satta, most recently of them visiting the dentist for those interested, it is difficult to keep defending him given his lack of contribution. However, considering the general performance, there weren't many who could argue they fared much better.

It was clear the instructions were to get the ball up to the front three, and let the magic happen. However, in the absence of the suspended Riccardo Montolivo, there was little in the way of creativity in the middle to help unlock the Cagliari back-line.

There have been question marks over Montolivo, and how he has the ability to offer so much more than he has recently. However, with certain players, their contribution is made so much clearer in their absence and that was most definitely the case with the midfield maestro. Milan were combative and tireless, but that doesn't always win you games, as shown at the Is Arenas.

Perhaps more worryingly, the defensive duo of Cristian Zapata and Philippe Mexes looked far from solid. Caught in possession and out of position on a number of occasions, it does make you wonder just how bad things could go a week on Wednesday when Barcelona visit San Siro. Based on how Victor Ibarbo and Co. enjoyed picking holes in between, Messi and friends are guaranteed a good night out in Milan.

With the disappointments aside, Milan did manage to battle back to preserve their unbeaten run, which now stretches to five games with one defeat in the last eleven, and could have won it at the death. However, on a weekend where Lazio were held by Napoli, the Rossoneri had the chance to move within a point of third place. With that chance missed, attention must now turn to Friday's clash with Parma and a quick return to winning ways.

What is your reaction to the Cagliari game? Was the midfield the key reason to Milan dropping points or was it just a disappointing day?

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