Mar 8, 2013 at 7.45pm UK at ​Stadio Luigi Ferraris
Genoa
0-2
AC Milan

Portanova (18'), Bovo (65'), Antonelli (88')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Pazzini (22'), Balotelli (60')
Balotelli (25'), Constant (32'), Flamini (56')
Constant (65')

Live Commentary: Genoa 0-2 AC Milan - as it happened

AC Milan players celebrate after defeating Barcelona on February 20, 2013
© AP Photos
Sports Mole's live minute-by-minute commentary of a crucial 2-0 victory for AC Milan against Genoa.

AC Milan travelled to Genoa tonight looking to solidify their quest for a place in the top three and Champions League qualification.

Massimiliano Allegri's side took the lead after 26 minutes when Giampaolo Pazzini slammed home from 12 yards despite struggling with a leg injury.

Mario Balotelli replaced the in-form striker and marked his return from a spell on the sidelines by making the three points safe with a composed finish from close range.

Kevin Constant was sent off in the closing stages after clashing with Cesare Bovo, but Genoa were unable to mount a late fightback.

Look back at a big win for Milan that keeps their hopes of catching Napoli alive with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute commentary below.


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7.15pmHello Serie A fans and thanks for joining Sports Mole as another packed weekend begins with AC Milan's trip to Genoa. The Rossoneri have climbed to third with a wonderful run of results and can solidify their Champions League ambitions with a win this evening.

7.17pmGenoa are enjoying a marked improvement of their own under Davide Ballardini, losing just one of their last six to climb away from the relegation zone. The Rossoblu gave Roma a fright despite eventually being edged 3-1 last weekend and will be confident of claiming a famous home win tonight!

7.19pmThe home side must tackle Milan without their manager at the helm tonight, with Ballardini banned from the touchline for his angry protests at the Olimpico on Sunday. Juarj Kucka is also suspended following his harsh late red card at the weekend after an altercation with Francesco Totti.

7.21pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! The team sheets have been released and reveal that Milan have decided to rest a trio of key players for next week's Champions League decider against Barcelona. Kevin-Prince Boateng, Ignazio Abate and Antonio Nocerino all miss out for Allegri's side this evening.

7.24pmGENOA: Frey, Granqvist, Portanova, Moretti, Cassani, Bovo, Tozser, Vargas, Antonelli, Bertolacci, Borriello

MILAN: Abbiati, De Sciglio, Mexes, Zapata, Constant, Flamini, Montolivo, Muntari, Niang, Pazzini, El Shaarawy


7.27pmA slightly weakened AC Milan side features M'Baye Niang, Kevin Constant and Sully Muntari from the start. Niang is still searching for his first Serie A goal but will partner Stephan El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini in a three-man attack.

7.29pmGenoa have erred on the side of caution tonight and decided not to bring in Ciro Immobile from the start. The forward was bright in a cameo at Roma alongside Marco Borriello, but the former Milan player will lead the line alone against his old club.

7.31pmAnother notable absentee for Milan is Mario Balotelli, especially considering that he is ineligible for next week's trip to the Camp Nou. Balotelli returned to full training on Wednesday but has not been considered fit enough to play 90 minutes. His absence means that Pazzini gets another chance up front after scoring twice against Lazio last Sunday.

7.33pmA positive result is absolutely crucial for Milan tonight as the race for third place hots up. Inter, Lazio and even Fiorentina are all within touching distance of the Rossoneri, who would go two points behind Napoli in second with a win at Genoa.

7.35pmBalotelli lies in wait on the bench for Milan tonight. Bojan Krcic, Boateng and Robinho are also part of a list of substitutes packed with quality and international experience for the visitors.

7.37pmGenoa should pose a genuine threat to Mexes and Zapata tonight through the middle. Marco Borriello spent two unhappy seasons at the San Siro, but the nomadic striker has rediscovered his form at the Luigi Ferrais this season. With support coming from Bertolacci, expect Genoa to aim precise passes into the physical forward's feet throughout.

7.40pmIn a move that fans of top Premier League clubs would welcome, Serie A are more than happy to move fixtures to help their sides still competing in the Champions League. Juventus had their clash with Napoli moved last Friday, with Milan the beneficiaries tonight. With Barcelona waiting on Tuesday, Allegri will definitely welcome an extra 24 hours' rest.

7.42pmIf Milan are stupid enough to overlook Genoa tonight we may be in for a surprise start to a packed weekend of European football. Balardini's side have a proud recent record at home, which includes wins over Lazio and Udinese in their last two matches.

7.44pmThe rain is pouring down at the Ferrais as both sides take to the field. A positive result is imperative tonight for both sides, which should make for a relatively open, attacking game.


7.46pmPREDICTION! We are just moments away from kickoff, which just gives me time to make a prediction. Milan have been nothing short of excellent in recent weeks but I think Genoa will provide a stern examination of the Rossoneri tonight. I will back the home side to earn a precious point in an unlikely 1-1 draw!

2 minGenoa get us underway to a raucous atmosphere. These two sides infamously share a heated rivalry, but both sets of fans seem in good voice early on as Pazzini is bundled over by Bovo before he can launch an attack.

4 minMilan settle into a promising period of possession as Constant bombs on down the left and leaves Cassani for dead with a quick piece of skill. Genoa have plenty of cover deep and do enough to prevent the full-back from producing a dangerous cross in the final third.

6 minThe trademark figure of Ballardini is on the touchline, with the late news reaching us that his punishment for being sent off was reduced to a fine earlier today. That is a big relief for the home side, who have been revitalised by his return in the last six weeks.

8 minMuntari catches Borriello late in the centre cirle and gives away a free kick. The Ghanaian midfielder protests vehemently but referee Damato is not interested.

10 minGenoa are pressing high up the pitch, which is creating space at both ends of the pitch. A bad playing surface is not helping either side though and can be described as extremely patchy at best.

12 minSHOT! Bertolacci drives from deep and after finding space decides to unleash the first shot of the match. Abbiati is not troubled though by a tame low effort which is caught with relative ease.

14 minMilan have won their last three against Genoa without conceding but definitely look to be in for a tougher match tonight. Ballardini has made the home side solid, hard working and above all tough to beat at home and those traits have all been evident early on.

16 minConstant wins a free kick around 30 yards from goal, but Montolivo can only deliver a curling cross which runs straight out of play. Allegri is visibly furious that his experienced international midfielder has just wasted a great chance to pick out a teammate in a packed penalty area!

18 minThe home side have a weak penalty appeal turned down as Antonelli goes down after a tussle with Zapata. Milan win back possession and use the chance to counter through De Sciglio, who wins a corner after his cross is deflected out by Moretti.

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20 minYELLOW CARD! Portonova earns the game's first booking after bringing down Pazzini from behind. The centre-back did not come close to winning the ball and must now spend the next 70 minutes on a caution. Pazzini stays down after the challenge and looks in some discomfort after eventually hobbling to the touchline.

22 minSHOT! Milan are momentarily down to 10 men but still produced the best effort on goal so far through Niang. The young Frenchman cuts inside before driving towards the top corner with venom. Frey watched it all the way but still has to tip the ball round his near post with a late diving save.

24 minGOAL! Genoa 0-1 AC Milan (Pazzini)

26 minDespite hobbling on one leg Pazzini has just given Milan the lead with a brilliant finish from 12 yards. Portonova can only clear a deflected cross into the path of the injured striker, and he takes full advantage to slam home off the crossbar with a powerful shot on his right foot. That is the Italian forward's 13th goal of the season and his third in two matches. Not bad for a third-choice striker!

28 minMILAN SUBSTITUTION: And that clinical finish has proved to be Pazzini's last contribution of the evening. The former Sampdoria striker cannot continue and is replaced by Mario Balotelli. Despite only joining full training on Wednesday the maverick striker will now play more than an hour tonight!

30 minYELLOW CARD! Less than a minute after coming on Balotelli has gone into the referee's notebook for a late lunge on Portanova. The challenge was more of a shove than anything dangerous but still earns the striker a caution.

32 minNever one to shy away from a talking point, Balotelli is now clutching being dispossessed out wide. Robinho is ordered to warm up, and you have to wonder why the Brazilian did not replace Pazzini if Balotelli is not 100% fit.

34 minYELLOW CARD! Constant becomes the third player booked before the break after bringing down Bovo 30 yards from goal. This set piece represents Genoa's first chance to send in a dangerous cross.

36 minGenoa are appealing for a penalty again as Niang appears to handle in the area. The Milan forward made contact with his arm but was barely two yards away from Moretti's header. Despite lengthy protests once again the home side are left disappointed with Damato's decision.

38 minMilan are being forced to defend deep as the home side probe without testing Abbiati. Montolivo wins back possession and finds Muntari, but his diagonal ball forward to El Shaarawy is off target and stops the visitors from launching an incisive counter.

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40 minCHANCE! Borriello fires over from close range after meeting a fine cross from Tozser out wide. Granqvist is adamant that he was fouled in the penalty area before the ball reached Borriello, but the penalty appeal is not third time lucky for Genoa!

43 minMilan survive another spell of pressure, but they have yet more injury trouble as Niang suffers a bloody nose after a physical challenge with Vargas. The visitors have three more minutes to hold out before the break.

45 minBorriello does well to outjump Mexes but Flamini produces an important last-ditch interception to deny Bertolacci a free strike at goal. The Frenchman is finally starting to rediscover his best form after a difficult time at the San Siro in previous seasons.

8.35pmHALF-TIME: Genoa 0-1 AC Milan

8.37pmMilan have snatched the lead after a scrappy first half, thanks to a brilliant finish from Pazzini. The forward was forced off less than 60 seconds later through injury, but what an impact he had just before that untimely exit. An unstoppable drive has Allegri's side ahead, perhaps slightly against the run of play, with Genoa shading possession and territory in a half of few clear-cut chances.

8.39pmBallardini's side have failed to make Abbiati work hard in the opposition goal, with Borriello starved of service and well marshalled by Mexes and Zapata. The home side need their full-backs to get forward after the interval and delivery quality crosses if they are to restore parity.

8.42pmNo fewer than three penalty appeals have been turned away for Genoa so far tonight, with the referee awarding the same number of yellow cards. Their best claim when Niang appeared to block a header with his hand, but Antonio D'Aamato is a strong character and waved away each protest adamantly.

8.44pmAllegri was forced to bring on Balotelli for Pazzini after just 28 minutes, but the striker's only impact so far has been a negative one. Booked for a late tackle less than a minute after being introduced, Balotelli must now keep his head and avoid an unnecessary sending-off.

8.46pmIf Milan can hold onto their slender advantage they will be guaranteed another week in the third and final Champions League spot. A big second half awaits for a weakened Rossoneri!

46 minMILAN SUBSTITUTION: Another worrying injury problem has forced Allegri to make his second change of the night. Mexes has been replaced at the break by Mario Yepes. Milan need their French defender fully fit for Barcelona next week and take him off as a precaution. Yepes started against Lazio last week and the experienced Colombian will now line up alongside compatriot Zapata.

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48 minVargas and Tozser combine down the left as Genoa start the second half on the attack. The Chilean sends a whipped cross towards the far post, but Borriello is penalised for handball before he can attempt to beat Yepes in the penalty area for the first time.

51 minOFF THE POST! Bertolacci wins a free kick just over 30 yards from goal after being brought down by De Sciglio. From the set piece Bovo curls a thunderous drive past Abbiati but onto the far post. The Milan goalkeeper was beaten at full stretch but gets lucky as the ball bounces clear after hitting the woodwork.

53 minVargas tries to follow Bovo's lead with a low strike from range, but after taking a deflection off Montolivo any threat to Abbiati's goal is taken away.

55 minSHOT! Balotelli gets involved for the right reasons with a powerful shot from 20 yards. The striker had three defenders round him but managed to cut back onto his right foot and lash just over the crossbar. At the other within a minute Borriello tests Abbiati with a scuffed drive from close range.

57 minYELLOW CARD! Flamini is booked for diving after appealing for a penalty. The Frenchman burst into the box and touched the ball beyond Frey, but took a tumble without any contact from the goalkeeper. Genoa are furious and confront Flamini, but Damato is quickly on the scene to dish out another caution.

59 minAntonelli rolls a pass into Bertolacci 12 yards from goal, but the attacking midfielder wants too much time and eventually sees his shot blocked by Zapata.

61 minGENOA SUBSTITUTION! The home side make their first change, which should see them switch to a 4-4-2 diamond formation. Cassani has been replaced by tricky striker Ciro Immobile.

64 minGOAL! Genoa 0-2 AC Milan (Balotelli)

66 minAfter an anonymous 30 minutes Balotelli curls home a precise strike to put Milan firmly in control. Genoa failed to clear their lines after Frey turned Flamini's low strike round the post. From the following corner Zapata kept the danger alive and Balotelli made no mistake from a tight angle to find the far corner.

69 minDOUBLE YELLOW CARD, SENDING-OFF! With Milan in total control of the match Constant has been sent off being brought down by a late lunge from Bovo. The young defender is absolutely livid and has clearly reacted to some form of provocation from the Genoa man. After taking more than a minute to leave the pitch the youngster is finally led down the tunnel by his teammates.


71 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Milan quickly get Abate on for El Shaarawy to provide defensive cover following Constant's dismissal. Bovo is also taken off after his part in the red-card incident, with Jorquera introduced with just under 20 minutes to play. Can Genoa use their man advantage to find a response?

73 minA clever piece of management by Ballardini to remove Bovo at this stage. His challenge on Constant was poor and with a yellow card to his name the defender may have done more harm than good in the closing stages.

75 minSAVE! Niang's miscue from a Montolivo cross takes a touch off Balotelli, who knew little about the deflection, but Frey is alive to the danger and makes a routine save low to his left.

77 minDOUBLE SAVE! Granqvist stays forward to meet a looping cross at the far post. The Swede controls before launching a strong volley towards Abbiati, who saves well. Genoa manage to recycle possession and Jorquera forces Abbiati to make a second stop with a low drive from distance. Encouraging signs finally for the home side but time is running out to respond.

80 minSUBSTITUTION: Serbian forward Jankovic continues his comeback from injury by coming on in Ballardini's final throw of the dice. Granqvist is taken off as Genoa decide it's time to go for broke!

82 minGenoa work a short corner to Tozser, but his delivery falls agonisingly short of an unmarked Borriellio at the far post and Abbiati eventually punches clear.

85 minAbate takes his time with a throw right in the corner as Milan run down the clock with a two-goal advantage. The home side eventually win back possession from Niang but Immobile's tame cross is easily gathered by Abbiati.

88 minBallardini has urged central defender Portanova forward for the last few minutes, but Genoa have struggled to supply quality crosses to their forwards all night. Expect a considerable chunk of stoppage time following Constant's altercation with Bovo!

90 minYELLOW CARD! Antonelli is booked for confronting the referee late on as Balotelli stays down after colliding with Bertolacci. A frustrating night for the home side is dwindling to a disappointing conclusion.

90 min+2Jorquera tries his luck again from range in the first of four added minutes, but Flamini meets the strike with a firm block.

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90 min+4Immobile has space at the far post but his first touch is heavy and allows Flamini to make his second block in as many minutes. Despite dominating territory for long spells Genoa have lacked a cutting edge when it counts all evening.

9.41pmFULL-TIME Genoa 0-2 AC Milan

9.43pmAn efficient, clinical performance from Milan tonight has helped Allgri's side avoid a potential banana-skin at Genoa. Pazzini and Balotelli produced when called upon to help the Rossoneri cement their place in the Champions League places ahead of Tuesday's trip to Barcelona.

9.45pmGenoa huffed and puffed but lacked a creative spark in the final third. Ballardini's men must now wait anxiously for the rest of their relegation rivals to play this weekend and hope for results to go their way.

9.47pmThat just about does it for Sports Mole's first live text commentary of the weekend. Thanks for joining us and be sure to check in for coverage of every match in Serie A this weekend. Goodnight!

AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng celebrates after scoring against Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 tie on February 20, 2013
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1AC Milan11003033
2Inter Milan11003033
3Juventus11003033
4Napoli11003123
5AC Chievo VeronaChievo11002113
6Sampdoria11002113
7Roma11001013
8Bologna10101101
9Torino10101101
10Genoa10100001
11Lazio10100001
12SPALSPAL10100001
13SassuoloSassuolo10100001
14BeneventoBenevento100112-10
15Udinese100112-10
16Atalanta BCAtalanta100101-10
17Hellas VeronaHellas Verona100113-20
18CagliariCagliari100103-30
19Crotone100103-30
20Fiorentina100103-30