Italian Serie A Roundup, Sep. 11

BY foxsports • September 11, 2010

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho made their debuts for AC Milan but the Rossoneri were stunned 2-0 by freshly promoted Cesena in the Serie A on Saturday.

Ibrahimovic started but hardly made an impact and Robinho replaced Ronaldinho in the 56th minute, after Erjon Bogdani and Emanuele Giaccherini had already scored for Cesena, which was playing its first Serie A home game in nearly 20 years.

Ibrahimovic punctuated the poor performance by smacking a penalty off the post in the 86th.

"Unfortunately we only had the entire squad together on Thursday, but that's no excuse. We lacked nastiness and there are no squads easy to beat in football," new Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

Allegri indicated that his forwards need to help out more on defense.

"This loss will only help us, because it shows that games need to be won on the pitch, with sacrifice," he said. "It doesn't matter how many champions you have."

In another surprise, 10-man AS Roma lost 5-1 at Cagliari, while Samuel Eto'o scored midway through the second half as five-time defending champion Inter Milan snapped a two-game winless streak with a 2-1 victory over Udinese.

Inter, Cesena and Cagliari lead with four points each.

At the San Siro, Eto'o knocked in a rebound of his own penalty shot in the 67th, then nearly scored again when he hit the post with a long shot in the 83rd.

Lucio put Inter in front seven minutes in when goalkeeper Samir Handanovic couldn't handle a corner kick from Wesley Sneijder, and Antonio Floro Flores equalized for Udinese in the 31st, beating Lucio to head in a cross from Antonio Di Natale.

In its previous two matches, Inter lost the European Super Cup 2-0 to Atletico Madrid and was held to a scoreless draw by Bologna in its Serie A opener.

"It's tough every year against Udinese, so it's nice to have won," Inter president Massimo Moratti said. "You can see that the play is evolving, it just takes some time for the squad to get going."

On Tuesday, Inter opens the defense of its Champions League title at Dutch side FC Twente.

While Inter was conspicuously quiet on the transfer market, Milan drew attention for signing Ibrahimovic from Barcelona and Robinho from Manchester City in the final days and hours of the trading window.

The idea of an attack featuring Ibrahimovic and three Brazil standouts - Robinho, Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato - spurred many observers to immediately declare Milan the title favorite. But the feared foursome came up empty against Cesena and the Rossoneri defense was horrid.

Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was late when Bogdani headed in from the center of the area in the 31st and Cesena waltzed through the Milan defense on a counterattack that led to Giaccherini's goal in the 44th.

Second-half substitute Filippo Inzaghi was Milan's most effective forward, drawing the foul that led to Ibrahimovic's miss from the penalty spot, and nearly scoring a few minutes earlier.

In Sardinia, the score was 1-1 when Nicolas Burdisso was sent off in the 20th for a rough foul on Cagliari midfielder Daniele Conti. The son of former Roma standout Bruno Conti required 30 stitches to close the resulting cut on his right knee.

Alessandro Matri converted the ensuing penalty kick, Robert Acquafresca made it 2-1 in the 38th, Matri added another in the 47th, and Andrea Lazzari finished off the rout in the 88th.

Conti had opened the scoring in the eighth with a splendid shot from beyond the area and Daniele De Rossi equalized for Roma with a header in the 18th.

Roma also failed to win its opener, drawing 0-0 with Cesena, which is rapidly developing into the early season surprise.

Seven more games are slated for Sunday, while the players' association has called for a strike for the weekend of Sept. 25-26 due to a contract dispute.

share story