Ibra inspires Milan to victory
Striker earns and scores penalty and then sets up Cassano goal
Last Updated: 28/09/11 10:33pm
Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired AC Milan to a 2-0 win over Viktoria Plzen in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
After a goalless first period in which both sides had chances, Ibrahimovic earned a penalty when his flick hit Marian Cisovski's arm in the box and the Swedish striker made no mistake from the spot in the 53rd minute.
Ibrahimovic then set up Antonio Cassano to notch the second 13 minutes later to earn the Italian side their first win in Group H and keep pace at the top with Barcelona, who won against BATE Borisov.
Massimiliano Allegri's men have failed to light up Serie A so far this season with five points from their opening four games and looked set for another difficult night against their Czech opponents.
But Ibrahimovic inspired Milan to their second win in four matches since a creditable 2-2 draw in their opening Group H fixture against Barcelona at the Nou Camp earlier this month.
It might have been much easier for the home side had Ignazio Abate's dangerous cross with just 28 seconds on the clock not been brilliantly saved by Plzen goalkeeper Marek Cech with danger lurking.
But the visitors quickly went on to serve notice of their intentions as Milan Petrzela met a Vaclav Pilar cross with a firm header in the centre of the penalty area which produced a fine save from Christian Abbiati.
Plzen came into the game with confidence after a solid start to their new Czech Liga season, a run of five games unbeaten keeping them well in touch with the league leaders.
In a lively start Cech saved twice from the dangerous Cassano then Mark Van Bommel came close to breaking the deadlock in the 13th minute when he headed an Abate cross over the bar.
Cech saved again from Cassano but Plzen continued to look lively and both Marek Bakos and Petr Jiracek fired wide from long range.
Pavel Horvath had the first chance of the second half for Plzen but Milan got their chance shortly afterwards when Marian Cisovski's handball in the box allowed Ibrahimovic to step up and slam home the penalty.
Cassano shot over the bar but Milan's lead looked anything but safe with Abbiati forced into action again to deny Horvath, then Clarence Seedorf booting clear a free-kick from the same player.
The points were finally all but guaranteed for the home side in the 66th minute when Cassano met Ibrahimovic's turn and pass and placed an exquisite shot into the bottom corner.
The game lost much of its momentum after the home side's second goal but the visitors continued to do their best to press forward and a shot by Michal Duris was blocked in the box by Van Bommel.
Two minutes later Daniel Kolar tried his luck from 30 yards but his speculative effort was easily saved by Abbiati as Milan cruised to a victory.
|Milan||Team Statistics||Viktoria Plzen|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||2|
|6||Shots off Target||8|
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Zenit St. Petersburg||1||3|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|4||Paris St Germain||0||0|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H