Sheva and Ronaldinho combine to down Zurich
Ancelotti`s side continue their winning streak in Europe
Carlo Ancelotti will sleep well tonight as his side continue their winning streak in Europe and book themselves a place in the group stages of the competition after seeing off a decent challenge from a determined Zurich side, Goal.com reported.
Zurich got the game started but it was Milan who had the first real chances to score within the opening couple of minutes. Seedorf set up Shevchenko who laid it off to Flamini but the chance fizzled out as the former Arsenal man took too much time on the ball. A minute later Zambrotta fed Seedorf who played a brilliant one-two with Shevchenko who beat the offside trap to run through on goal but Johnny Leoni met the Ukrainian and made a decent save to stop his side from conceeding what would have been the opener.
The Italians looked bright and fit as they took control of the game. However there was some concern early on as Antonini went down injured. Luckily for the Rossoneri the youngster was able to continue. Carlo Ancelotti`s men settled down well and they played with confidence and style as they moved the ball around well creating some great chances. Zambrotta got the ball rolling when he went on one of his trademark runs down the wing. The world cup winner left three Zurich players for dead as he skipped past them to cut it back for Seedorf but the cross was headed back to the stopper who smashed a volley a-la-Van Basten but Leoni saved it well.
Aegeter tried his luck from distance on the first time volley but it went wide, much to the relief of Dida in goal. The home side began to raise the tempo as they came forward looking for the opener but Zambrotta and company were on song at the back and the Swiss side were finding it difficult. Milan hearts were in mouths on 20 minutes as Hassli has a glorious chance to give his side the lead after Okonkwo`s good work on the edge of the box. However, the striker blasted his effort over from a very tight angle. Zurich were always growing in stature and they looked dangerous as the half wore on.
Emerson started the game for Milan after only getting 30 minutes of football so far this term and he had his chance to shine when a good move involving Shevchenko and Ronaldinho culminated in the midfielder having a decent strike on goal but the shot fizzed past Leoni`s post. Minutes later there was some bad news for the Rossoneri as Kaladze had to come off injured. The Georgian stopper seemed to have stretched and strained his thigh muscle when going for a loose ball and he was replaced with Maldini.
Just before half time Antonini went on a brilliant down the left and played a terrific ball into Seedorf but the Ducthman saw his poke on the ball go wide of the far post. Seconds later Ronaldinho put the ball in the danger zone but the chance was wasted as the referee sent both teams into the dressing rooms for half time.
The teams came out unchanged and the Italians got the affair back underway. Zurich won a free kick through Barmetta but he left the set piece up to Hassli. However his drive from distance was poor as it went, high, wide and into row z. Neither Milan nor the Swiss side showed any urgency in their play. Zurich never looked like a team who were chasing the result with the ambition of side looking to make the next stage of the UEFA Cup.
The Italians were lucky not have conceded a penalty and it at the whole stadium up in arms. Hassli made a decent run into the box and Zambrotta came across him to cut up his run. There was contact and the striker went down. Replays suggest it should have been a spot kick but the referee waved play on.
Il Diavolo looked a little nervous. Ronaldinho did what he could to ignite the game but the Rossoneri lacked the spark which is usually offered by Kaka who was watching from the bench. The Brazilian midfielder was then introduced into the fray on the hour mark as Ancelotti tried to inject some more attacking prowess into his side.
Emerson should be given the award for miss of the season if there ever was one. The midfielder wasted one of the moves of the game as Kaka, Seedorf and Ronaldinho ripped the Swiss defence to shreds with some razor sharp passing and moving but Emerson scuffed his shot as he went for power over accuracy to waste what would have been a dead certain goal.
On 70 minutes Shevchenko, who was rather quiet for most of the game, scored a well taken goal to give his side the lead on the night and make their passage into the group stage even stronger. Ronaldinho pulled the strings as he played a delightful lob-pass over the Zurich defence and into the path of the Ukrainian who slid the ball under Leoni and into the net. It was a sublime goal and it was Zambrotta who started the move. Seconds later Sheva should have made it two as he rolled back the years but his header was blocked.
Zurich tried in vain to play for some pride but the experience Milan machine held on to take a morale boosting result with them from their away day in Switzerland.
Teams Zurich 4-4-1-1: Leoni, Stahel, Tihinen, Brmettler, Stucki(Lampi), Djuric(Nikci), Abdi, Aegerter, Okonkwo, Alphonse(Tahirovic), Hassli.
Milan 4-3-2-1: Dida, Zambrotta, Bonera, Kaladze(Maldini), Antonini, Flamini, Emerson, Ambrosini(Ambrosini), Seedorf(Gattuso), Ronaldinho, Shevchenko.