Successful start for Seedorf
Last Updated: 19/01/14 9:55pm
Keisuke Honda in action for AC Milan
Clarence Seedorf made a winning start to life as AC Milan coach, although he had to wait for Mario Balotelli to score an 82nd-minute penalty before finally breaking Hellas Verona's resistance.
Fielding a bold attacking side in the first game of his coaching career, Seedorf saw exactly why the Rossoneri were in the wrong half of the table coming into this game. They struggled to find a way through against a disciplined Verona side who would have been good value for a point.
However, a late penalty provided Milan with a lifeline and Balotelli took it to lift Seedorf's men up to 11th place, seven points behind the top five.
Seedorf ignored the issue of which of his four forwards he should leave out by naming all of them.
Keisuke Honda, Ricardo Kaka, Robinho and Balotelli all lined up in an adventurous attack which, at least for the first 10 minutes of the game, looked like it was going to keep the Verona defenders very busy indeed.
Milan enjoyed over 80 per cent of the possession during that spell, but having the ball was one thing, doing something with it was proving to be another.
The visitors defended resolutely, limiting their hosts to just two Balotelli efforts in the entire first 45 minutes, Rafael denying him twice and watching Domenico Maietta clear his lines after only parrying the Italian's second attempt.
Verona tried to break whenever the opportunity presented itself, but apart from a Daniele Cacia chance early in the second half which would have been ruled out for offside anyway, they failed to test Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal.
Milan continued to lack invention and, as the clock ticked down, it did not seem like they were going to find the key to unlock the Verona defence.
Alejandro Gonzalez provided it for them with eight minutes to go.
The defender needlessly slid in on Kaka, who had already sent the ball behind for a goal kick, only the slick surface meant Gonzalez followed through and took the Brazilian's feet from under him.
The penalty was awarded without any hesitation and Balotelli assumed the responsibility for taking it, sending Rafael the wrong way, much to the relief of most of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, and Seedorf in particular.
Italian Serie A