Champions AC Milan were held to a 2-2 draw by Lazio at the San Siro on Friday night, as the new Serie A season kicked-off in entertaining fashion.
Lazio debutants Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse both scored in the opening 22 minutes of the game, before Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antonio Cassano struck back in quick succession to earn a point for the Rossoneri.
Edy Reja’s side proved their summer spending has vastly improved their forward line and could turn them into contenders while Milan will be pleased with their fight-back ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Barcelona.
AC Milan coach Massimilano Allegri admitted his team found life difficult to begin with but said he was relatively happy with the performance.
“We struggled at first, Lazio played well, they ran well, they covered the pitch well and we conceded chances on the counter,” he said.
“Then for 60-65 minutes we did what we should’ve done, especially in the second half when we missed several chances to win.
“The lads did well to hit back and in the end I’m happy with what we did.
“What we could have done better was our organisation at the beginning of game in order to find our rhythm.”
Lazio coach Edy Reja had vowed to attack Milan and he stayed true to his word as his new strike force tore them apart early on.
“For our first match, against Milan I think we could’ve got more out of it,” said Reja.
“I asked for great character and commitment and we played really well. In the second half we ground out the result with great determination.”
Milan had an early chance when Ibrahimovic played in Alberto Aquilani, who skipped past an astonishingly feeble challenge from Andre Dias but Albano Bizzarri was out quickly to block his shot.
Lazio went ahead on 12 minutes when Stefano Mauri crossed for Klose, whose first touch with his right was brilliant to beat Alessandro Nesta before he finished crisply with his left.
Cisse then pounced on a mix-up between Gennaro Gattuso and Nesta but after Christian Abbiati parried his fierce shot, Klose on the stretch poked wide.
Lazio didn’t have to wait long for their second, though, as on 21 minutes Mauri was given time to swing in a cross and Cisse, running across the backline, got ahead of Nesta to flick a header beyond Abbiati.
The visitors were full of verve, panache, energy and desire up front but they proved vulnerable at the back as Milan’s own forwards started coming into the game.
On 29 minutes Aquilani played the ball down the inside right channel to Cassano, who teed up Ibrahimovic for a simple tap-in.
Kevin-Prince Boateng almost surprised Bizzarri at his near post but from the resulting corner Cassano held off his marker to head home from close range on 33 minutes.
Lazio should have gone in at half-time in front but Brazilian Hernanes showed his one-footed limitations, missing an easy chance from Abdoulay Konko’s cross having insisted on going for it with his favoured left.
By the start of the second period Lazio’s bright start had lost its steam.
Cassano had a good early chance but shot just wide of the far post and he came even closer just past the hour mark as he hit the near upright.
That sparked Lazio back into life and Cisse scampered through the middle to dink the ball past Abbiati but a dogged Nesta got back in time to hack the ball behind for a corner.
Milan almost produced a grandstand finish five minutes from time as Ibrahimovic got behind the Lazio backline but Bizzarri again did well to block his shot.
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