Serie A wrap: Milan struggle against lowly Parma

September 22, 2007

MILAN, September 22 (Serie A) - AC Milan failed to reproduce their European form as they let a one-goal lead slip in a 1-1 draw with lowly Parma.

The reigning Champions League winners came into the clash hoping to reproduce the stylish football which saw off Benfica in midweek.

But, having taken the lead through Clarence Seedorf at the end of a first half they dominated, the Rossoneri let Andrea Pisanu bag an equaliser with what was Parma's only real chance of the match.

Filippo Inzaghi then came close as the game entered its final stages, but like his team's performance on the whole, the shot was not quite good enough.

It takes Milan's record to a less than impressive one win in four games - though they remain undefeated - and moves them down to sixth in the table, while Parma are 14th with three draws and one defeat.

Based on the first 45 minutes of their trip to the San Siro, it seemed inevitable Domenico Di Carlo would be counting another loss.

First, Kaka's 15th-minute header brought a fine save from Nicola Pavarini, before the Brazilian played in Inzaghi, who shot straight at the keeper when he had the goal at his mercy.

Reginaldo Ferreira Da Silva then blazed over with an opportunistic free-kick for Parma, but Milan hit back and came within a whisker of taking the early initiative.

Marek Jankulovski was the creator, feeding Inzaghi's run only to see the Italian rifle his drive against the post.

It was a let off for Parma - and they would get lucky again in the 29th minute when Alessandro Nesta blasted a Seedorf corner towards goal and team-mate Daniele Bonera blocked the net-bound shot with the keeper nowhere close.

Parma were seemingly living on borrowed time, but the luck ran out when Pavarini saved Inzaghi's 44th minute drive and Seedorf, lurking just yards from goal, poached the opener.

Inzaghi blasted wide as Milan resumed play after the break in attacking mood, while Reginaldo miscontrolled when in front of goal after 50 minutes.

By the time Andrea Pirlo mis-kicked when through on goal it seemed their was no Parma threat, but then things changed.

From the left side, Reginaldo played in Andrea Pisanu, who promptly lashed a left foot piledriver past Dida and into the bottom corner for an unlikely leveller.

Seedorf missed a chance to instantly restore the lead, while Kaka, collecting the ball with just 10 minutes to go, missed a golden chance when miscontrolling in the area.

Bernardo Corradi came close as the game entered its final stages, but like Inzaghi's strike seconds later, he bobbled his shot when presented with a clear sight of goal.

Antonio Di Natale inspired Udinese to all three points against Reggina with two sublime strikes worthy of winning any game.

The Italy striker curled a fantastic opener after only five minutes to put the hosts in front, before an exquisite volley just after the hour-mark wrapped up victory.

And although Reggina twice hit the woodwork, they could find no way past a resilient Udinese defence and crashed to their second consecutive defeat.

After netting a brace for the Azzurri in their recent victory over Ukraine, Di Natale has also become a crucial figure for his club as well.

His strike was enough to earn the Friuli side a memorable 1-0 win at Juventus last weekend, and he handed the hosts a dream start with five minutes on the clock.

After receiving a pass from Gyan Asamoah on the edge of the six-yard box, he kept his composure to curl a delightful effort past Andrea Campagnolo from a tight angle which left the keeper with no chance.

And to think that weeks ago, he wanted to walk out on the club and was dropped as a result.

Coach Pasquale Marino will have learned the lessons from the 5-0 home defeat to Napoli without Di Natale and will be pleased the pair's differences have been resolved because, in this sort of form, the Italy striker is worth his weight in gold.

The hosts came within inches of a quick second when Andrea Dossena set off a great run down the left wing before whipping in a dangerous cross which narrowly evaded the onrushing Asamoah at the near post.

Reggina started to impose themselves on the encounter and Nicola Amoruso almost pulled them level with a header which cannoned back off the crossbar with Samir Handanovic well beaten.

Asamoah almost doubled the home side's advantage just before the break, but Fabio Quagliarella got in ahead of him and failed to find the target as he was forced to stretch for a header.

However, it all proved in vein as Di Natale grabbed his and Udinese`s second after 62 minutes.

The marksman brought the ball down superbly with a delicate first touch, before volleying past Campagnolo from an acute angle to send the home crowd into rapturous applause.

Reggina failed to find a way back into the game as the clash drew to a close and, despite Emil Hallfredsson`s long-range effort which clipped the top of the crossbar, they did not really look like troubling Udinese`s comfortable lead.