Good evening and thank you for joining Sports Mole
for live text commentary of the Serie A match between AC Milan
at the San Siro.
There can't be too many more romantic places to spend Valentine's Day than the city of Milan, and the Rossoneri will want to give their fans the gift of three points against their struggling opponents this evening.
Milan lost their first league match under Clarence Seedorf
last weekend when they fell to a 3-1 defeat
against Napoli. Meanwhile, Bologna ended a winless run of five matches by beating Torino 2-1
at the Stadio Olimpico.
AC MILAN XI:
Abbiati, De Sciglio, Rami, Zapata, Constant, De Jong, Montolivo, Honda, Kaka
, Taarabt, Balotelli
BOLOGNA XI: Curci, Antonsson, Natali, Mantovani, Garics, Lazaros, Perez, Krhin, Morleo, Bianchi, Cristaldo
AC MILAN SUBS: Gabriel, Amelia, Mexes, Abate, Zaccardo, Muntari, Essien, Poli, Saponara, Pazzini
BOLOGNA SUBS: Stojanovic, Malagoli, Sorensen, Cherubin, Cech, Crespo, Friberg, Suarez, Ibson, Kone, Moscardelli, Paponi
AC Milan midfielder Kaka
returns to the starting lineup after missing last weekend's match against Napoli with the flu. Meanwhile, Cristian Zapata
and Kevin Constant
replace Philippe Mexes
and Urby Emanuelson
in defence and Riccardo Montolivo
comes in for Michael Essien
. Bologna manager Davide Ballardini
has named the same team that beat Torino last weekend.
There are eight points in the table
separating the two teams. Milan are in 11th place and will climb into the top half of the table with a win. If they do manage to pick up three points, then they will be just four points away from fifth-placed Inter Milan. Bologna are 16th in the league and are four points clear of the relegation zone.
When these two sides met back in September, the match ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw
. Bologna were actually 3-1 up heading into the final two minutes, before goals from Robinho
and Ignazio Abate
salvaged a point for Milan.
Bologna have only won four league matches this season and didn't claim a victory until their ninth Serie A fixture of the season. A big problem for them has been their poor defensive record, having leaked 39 goals in their 23 league games.
While Milan will be targeting a win this evening, Seedorf will surely be looking ahead to their Champions League meeting with Atletico Madrid next week. The Spanish side are level with Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table
and will provide stern opposition when they arrive at the San Siro. With the Rossoneri out of the Coppa Italia and with no chance of winning the title, the European Cup is their last chance of claiming silverware this season.
Despite Milan's indifferent form this season, the arrival of Seedorf has had a positive effect on the players and they look far more of a united team. Bologna's impressive result away to Torino last weekend will have surely been a huge boost to Davide Ballardini
's men, but it will be a big ask for them to get anything from the San Siro. Recent draws with Lazio, Napoli and Sampdoria show that they can trouble the league's best teams but I fancy Milan to come out on top with a 2-0 win this evening.
It looks like the kickoff will be slightly later than we were expecting, as the players are only just making their way onto the pitch.
KICKOFF! We are underway at the San Siro!
Milan have seen plenty of the ball in the opening stages, but we are yet to see a strike on goal from either side. They have won a free kick on the left hand side, which will give them a first chance to get numbers forward into the box.
The free kick is taken short before eventually being worked to Montolivo just outside the box. He looks to curl it past the keeper, but can't get enough on the shot to seriously trouble Curci.
Taarabt shows the first glimpses of what he can do for Milan, as he plays a fine ball through for Constant down the left. The full back latches onto the pass and drills a low ball into the box, but the keeper does well to anticipate the cross and comes to to claim.
It is still all Milan, and Bologna are struggling to get the ball out of their own half. They surely can't cope for the whole match under this amount of pressure, and will need to get some sort of sustained run of possession.
CHANCE! Milan win a free kick on the left and it eventually falls to Montolivo on the edge of the box, who lashes in a low strike that the keeper beats away. The rebound bounces up to Balotelli, but he can't get over the ball properly and mishits his attempt.
The Rossoneri are still camped outside their opponents' area and are looking for that final killer pass to make the difference. To their credit, Bologna have held firm so far and are dealing well with the high amount of pressure they are under.
Milan have won a host of free kicks on the left, and they get another, after Taarabt is brought down by Perez just outside of the area.
Balotelli whips in the set piece, but the Bologna defence deal with the threat again and clear the danger.
CHANCE! Bologna have their first chance of the game, as Krhin meets a cross from the left and loops a header goalwards. It looks like it is heading into the far corner, but Abbiati gets a hand to the ball to tip it over the bar.
That chance looks like it might have sparked Milan into life and they come forward in numbers. The ball is eventuality played out wide to De Sciglio who whips in a cross that Kaka flicks on, but none of his teammates took a chance at the back post and the keeper claims with ease.
It must be frustrating for the Milan players who are trying to break down a team that are just sitting behind the ball and looking to hit them on the counter attack. It is a problem that many big teams face, but they have the players to make the difference.
Milan have won another free kick in a similar position to where Balotelli took their last effort. He is standing over the ball again, and his team will be hoping he can find a better delivery this time.
CHANCE! Balotelli whips it in low and the keeper looks to have the strike covered, before spilling the ball. Zaccardo follows it up but the keeper somehow managers to stop it with his leg. If he had managed to score it may not have counted, as the linesman's flag was raised.
The game is still following a very similar pattern, with Milan completely dominating the ball and Bologna holding firm on the edge of their box. The hosts have played much of the ball through the middle and are having very little joy so far.
Bologna venture on a rare foray forward and Cristaldo picks up the ball on the left. He cuts inside and gets the ball on his right foot, before bending in a strike that is hit straight at the keeper.
There is currently a short delay in the match, as the referee gets smashed in the face with the ball, and heads to touchlines to receive some treatment.
The game is back underway, but there is still quite a lot of blood coming from the referee's lip.
CHANCE! Milan come close as Honda picks up the ball on the edge of the box and lays it off for Montolivo to strike from range, but Curci does well to push his low drive round the post.
Bologna have a big opportunity to cause Milan some problems at the end of the half, as they win a free kick in a dangerous position around 30 yards out from goal.
Christodoulopoulos steps up to take the set piece and scuffs his effort well wide of the post. That was a huge waste for the visitors and his manager will not be pleased.
There are going to be two minutes added on at the end of the half.
HALF-TIME: AC Milan 0-0 Bologna
Despite completely dominating the possession, Milan have not been able to find a way past Bologna and we go into the break goalless. Montolivo's two long range efforts were the best chances for the hosts, while Krhin brought the best out of Abbiati for the visitors.
The stats at half time show that Milan have enjoyed a huge 75% of the ball. They have had eight attempts on goal, compared to their opponents' five. We haven't really seen the hosts get in behind, with the Bologna defence holding firm.
There aren't too many attacking options on the bench for Seedorf, but Giampaolo Pazzini
and Riccardo Saponara
are two players who could play some part in the second half. We are yet to see the best of Mario Balotelli
so far, who has cut a frustrated figure up front this evening.
It hasn't quite been the 3-3 thriller that it was the last time these sides met, but hopefully we will see a goal or two in the next 45 minutes.
The players are making their way back out onto the pitch and it won't be long before the second half kicks off.
Milan kick off and get the match back underway.
YELLOW CARD! Natali has picked up a booking for Bologna for bringing down Balotelli. It has presented the home side with a free kick in a promising position that Montolivo is standing over.
Montolivo floats the free kick into the box, but it is just over the head of Rami at the back post and goes behind for a goal kick.
Taarabt has looked one of his side's most lively players this evening and does well to win a corner. The delivery into the box isn't the best though and Bologna clear the danger again.
Milan have another free kick as De Sciglio is fouled on the right hand side. They have had countless opportunities from set pieces this evening, but have not been able to make anything count so far.
Honda whips in a decent free kick, but it is well cleared behind by the Bologna defence.
Bologna might have a problem as Morleo goes down after making a sliding challenge on De Sciglio. He is back on his feet, but moving around rather gingerly.
Milan continue to press and Balotelli flicks the ball over the top for Kaka. The Brazilian just manages to keep the ball in and plays it back to Taarabt on the edge of the box, who takes a touch and shifts the ball onto his left foot, before drilling an effort high over the bar.
CHANCE! What a huge chance for Bologna. Garics whips a wonderful ball in from the right and Cristaldo meets it on the half volley in the box, but he directs his effort just over the bar.
SAVE! Bologna come close again as Christodoulopoulos lets fly from just outside the box, and with the ball heading for the top corner, Abbiati pulls off a stunning save to tip it over.
CHANCE! The visitors are enjoying themselves now and a long ball over the top finds Bianchi. The angle is against him, but he tries to drill a shot past Abbiati and into the far corner, but it goes just wide of the post.
SUBSTITUTION: Milan make the first change of the match as Muntari comes on for De Jong.
Bologna are looking the better of the two sides, and Cristaldo bursts down the right wing before pulling a ball back across the box for Bianchi, however Rami is in the right place to clear.
SUBSTITUTION: The hosts have quickly made a second change and Pazzini comes on in place of Honda.
Bologna's confidence has been boosted considerably following their recent chances and they sense that they can take all three points from this match now.
Milan waste yet another free kick, as Montolivo floats the ball in for Rami, who fouls his man as he goes to attack it. They have been very disappointing from set piece situations all evening.
After that spell of Bologna pressure, the home side are back on the ball and are keeping it deep inside their opponents half. They have a problem though, as Kaka is down and looks in a lot of pain, after he appears to have injured his ankle.
Having received some treatment off the pitch it looks like Kaka is going to be okay to continue and the injury wasn't as serious as it first appeared.
The home side come close to scoring as Taarabt latches onto a long ball over the top before drilling in a low cross. The keeper came out and got a touch, with Kaka arriving to try and slot the loose ball home, but they got enough defenders back to block his effort.
SUBSTITUTION: Milan decide not to risk Kaka, and Poli comes on to replace him.
Milan are getting more balls into the box, with De Sciglio and Constant delivering decent crosses, but they are unable to find anyone in the middle.
SUBSTITUTION: The visitors make a change, with Suarez coming on for Cristaldo.
YELLOW CARD! Zaccardo picks up a card for Milan for a foul on the left hand side, which has presented Bologna with a promising free kick opportunity.
GOAL! AC Milan 1-0 Bologna (Balotelli)
What a goal by Balotelli! He picks up the ball around 35 yards out and drills a stunning, swerving shot that flies into the top corner, leaving the keeper with no chance. That was a moment of pure magic from the striker and he may well have given his side all three points this evening.
DOUBLE SUBSTITUTION: Bologna have responded to falling behind by bringing on Moscardelli and Friberg.
There are going to be four minute of stoppage time. Is there still time for Bologna to gain a point from this match?
YELLOW CARD! Balotelli shows great skill to burst forward and keep hold of the ball for his side before being fouled by Friberg, who picks up a booking for the challenge.
From the resulting free kick, Balotelli steps up to try and recreate his wonderful goal of a few minutes ago, but fires the ball high over the bar.
FULL-TIME: AC Milan 1-0 Bologna
The referee blows the final whistle, and a goal of individual brilliance from Mario Balotelli has given Milan the three points. It was a goal worthy of winning any match, and lifts his side back into the top half of the table.
That's all we've got time for here this evening. Please stay with us at Sports Mole for all of the latest results and news from tonight's matches. Until next time. Goodbye!