Milan finish on a high as Juve despair deepens

AC Milan thrashed Juventus 3-0 for the second time this season to finish a disappointing season on a high and condemn their rivals to more misery in an already dismal year.

Rome: AC Milan thrashed Juventus 3-0 for the second time this season to finish a disappointing season on a
high and condemn their rivals to more misery in an already
dismal year.

A goal from left-back Luca Antonini and a brace from
Ronaldinho, who reminded Brazil coach Dunga what he will be
missing at the World Cup in South Africa, turned the San Siro
into a party last night.

The former world player of the year said he had nothing
against Dunga for the snub.

"My response was here on the pitch, but if he doesn`t
pick me for the national team it`s his choice and I respect
that," he said.

"I`ve done many good things this season and I don`t want
to compare myself to others to see if I`ve done much more or
much less, I`m calm."

Milan consolidated the third place they had already
secured while Juve`s record number of defeats in a Serie A
season rose to 15, with their 56 goals conceded also a new
club record.

It also left them in seventh place in the table.

This match was remarkable for being between two teams
that had already decided to replace their coaches at the end
of the season, making it a swansong for Milan`s Leonardo and
Juve`s Alberto Zaccheroni.

While Zaccheroni had only been signed in January on a
deal until the end of the season, Leonardo was midway through
a two-year contract but seems to have been forced out by Milan
president Silvio Berlusconi, the Italy Prime Minister.

The fans showed exactly where their loyalties lay before
kick-off, expressing their support for Leonardo and the
players while venting their fury at Berlusconi.

Juventus started the game well enough as Vincenzo
Iaqunita got away inside the box on four minutes but dragged
his shot just wide of the far post.

Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had to save with his
feet from Ronaldinho before the hosts moved ahead on 14

And it was a goal that showed just why Juve have been
struggling so much this season.

Three times in midfield Juve came out second best in
50-50 challenges resulting in Antonini finding himself with
the ball in front of the back four.

He slipped it to his right to Clarence Seedorf and
continued his run forward past Fabio Cannavaro, who had been
dragged out of position, while the Dutch midfielder flicked
the ball over the defence with Cannavaro`s centre-back
partner Giorgio Chiellini closing him down.

The result was a huge gaping gap into which Antonini ran
and although Cannavaro got back to make a sliding challenge at
the last moment, he succeeded only in deflecting the
full-back`s shot beyond Buffon`s reach.

It was two on 28 minutes after more poor Juve play as
Christian Poulsen`s pass was cut out by Ronaldinho, who burst
forward and although his pass was cut out by Fabio Grosso, the
Juve left back dallied as Cannavaro watched.

Ronaldinho stole back the ball before playing a one-two
with Pato and then beating Buffon at his near post.

That finally got a reaction out of Juve and Alessandro
Del Piero forced goalkeeper Dida to tip over his rising drive
while Cannavaro headed a cross narrowly wide.

But more inept defending cost Juve midway through the
second period as Gianluca Zambrotta`s right-wing cross found
it`s way to Ronaldinho at the back post and Poulsen stood off
him long enough for the Brazilian to pick his spot and curl
the ball into the far corner past substitute goalkeeper Alex

In the night`s other match Lazio beat Udinese 3-1 in the
capital but Antonio Di Natale did manage his 29th goal of the
season for the visitors to increase his lead in the golden
boot competition.

Bureau Report