Rossoneri rule in Russia

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev has to pick the ball out of his netGettyImagesZenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev is beaten yet again as Stephan El Shaarawy leads the charge for AC Milan

"There's no doubting the current star and man in form is Stephan El Shaarawy, and 'the little Pharaoh' will be keen to extend his goal-scoring streak. It will be fascinating to see whether he can take his domestic form into Europe and showcase his talent on the big stage." (Taken from last blog)

In a magical ten first-half seconds, Stephan El Shaarawy delivered on the big stage as Milan fought their way to a 3-2 win against Zenit in St. Petersburg. The 19-year-old became the youngest ever goal-scorer in the Champions League for Milan, as he embarked on a mazy run before slotting the ball in the back of the net. Grit, determination and luck conspired to ensure the Rossoneri secured all three points, a timely boost ahead of the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday.

Il Faraone has been in superb form, with his goal at the Petrovsky Stadium his fifth in four games. Evidently gifted, his form has resulted in speculation linking the youngster with likes of Manchester United; however he made clear his intention and loyalty in his post-match interview.

"I'm ready even to play as a full-back for this team. I'm completely at the squad's disposal. It was an important win. The derby will be very difficult, but we'll prepare ourselves in the best way," El Shaarawy said.

Plucked from Genoa via a loan stop at Padova, the self-confessed Milan fan and Savona native is gradually becoming an integral and rather exciting component of this new Milan. His direct running, coupled with pace and control is becoming more evident with each game - skipping past defenders at will against Cagliari and Parma before his solo effort on Wednesday night. As mentioned previously though, the youngster is still very raw and will need to be managed carefully to avoid the risk of burning him out before the season is over. However, for now, let us enjoy the Pharaoh in full flow.

Also crucial to the win in Russia was Christian Abbiati, who pulled off numerous world-class saves that ensured victory with Massimiliano Allegri labelling him 'an excellent goalkeeper who in my two years here at Milan has done great things'. The Rossoneri will need him on top form again on Sunday night, with the derby on the horizon.

The win against Zenit was not only vitally important in the race for qualification from Group C, but also to build confidence in the squad. Having surrendered a two-goal lead, to fight back and secure victory will have boosted morale and belief. It also alleviates some of the pressure on Allegri, the squad and the crunch clashes with Malaga which may well determine the outcome of Group C. After a sluggish and frustrating start to the season, the results are now arriving, with Allegri and his troops fighting hard to improve, bring on I***r and the derby! Forza Milan!

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty.

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