MX23RW : Thursday, September 20 11:14:33
Oct 19, 2013 at 7.45pm UK at ​San Siro
AC Milan
Birsa (22')
Montolivo (25'), Muntari (52'), Robinho (81')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Pinzi (20'), Pereyra (52'), Loureiro (81')

Live Commentary: AC Milan 1-0 Udinese - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's text coverage of the Serie A encounter between AC Milan and Udinese at the San Siro.

AC Milan recorded a valuable 1-0 win over Udinese this evening to move into seventh in the Serie A table.

Valter Birsa lit up a dull first half with a moment of rare quality as he smashed Robinho's lay-off into the top corner from 25 yards.

The second half was an equally low-quality affair, with the only major highlight coming when Antonio Di Natale's free kick was expertly tipped onto the bar by debutant keeper Gabriel.

You can read how the whole 90 minutes transpired with Sports Mole's live coverage below.

7.15pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's match as two struggling giants go head to head. AC Milan and Udinese are both looking for something to kick-start their seasons, and three points tonight could be exactly what is needed.

7.17pmWe'll start by looking at the hosts, and it is an almost unrecognisable Milan side who face Udinese tonight. That doesn't only apply to personnel, with Milan's growing injury crisis worsened by the absence of the likes of Balotelli and Abbiati, but also in terms of form.

7.19pmMilan, who are rightly regarded as one of Italy's great clubs, have not had a good time of things so far this season. They have won just two of their opening seven games, drawing another two and losing three to give them a rather meagre tally of eight points from a possible 21. That leaves them 13th in the table going into this match, a position worsened earlier today by Cagliari's victory over Catania.

7.21pmHowever, it is not too late to turn things around for Massimiliano Allegri's side. Three points this evening would see them jump six places up to seventh, above the likes of Lazio and tonight's opponents Udinese. Consistency is what they need to discover sooner rather than later if they are to turn their season around, and tonight would be a morale-boosting win if they can claim all three points.

7.23pmIt is clear where Milan's problems lie - they simply have conceded too many goals. Only the bottom two of Bologna and Sassuolo have conceded more goals than Milan so far this season, which is a record that will hurt the club given their history of legendary defenders. They are certainly not at their strongest to ensure a clean sheet tonight either, with Abbiati out injured and Mexes and De Jong suspended.

7.25pmScoring goals, on the other hand, has not been a problem for Milan. They are the league's top scorers outside of the top four, which is a record that should see them higher than 13th in the table. Once again, though, injuries have taken their toll on their attacking options, with Balotelli and El Shaarawy out for today's match. Matri and Robinho will be the men charged with finding the back of the net tonight.

7.27pmEven accounting for their injury troubles, Milan's form going into this match is highly disappointing. They have won just once in their last five matches in the league, and that record is the same if you look at all competitions as well. However, their home record is impeccable, having only been defeated once - against Napoli a month ago - in their last 18 competitive games at the San Siro.

7.29pmUdinese's current plight isn't quite as bad as Milan's but they will be just as disappointed with the start they have made to the season. Just 10 points from the opening seven games sees them sit eighth in the table, although they could move as high as fifth with a big enough win tonight.

7.31pmTheir problems are in stark contrast to Milan's in that they have been strong at the back but weak going forward. They have the joint-best defence outside the top four having conceded eight goals, but no side in the top 13 have scored fewer goals than Udinese's nine.

7.33pmIf Milan's poor defence vs. Udinese's poor attack and Milan's good attack vs. Udinese good defence looks like an intriguing, even battle, then there is a bigger gap when it comes to looking at home and away form between the two sides.

7.35pmUdinese have only managed one win in five away games this season, while their three league matches on their travels have not yielded a single point. To end that record against Milan at the San Siro would have to be regarded as a very good result for the visitors.

7.37pmTEAM NEWS: I've already mentioned that Abbiati misses today's game through injury, and he is replaced between the sticks by Gabriel. Kaka can only make the bench, with Matri and Robinho leading the line for the hosts. Roberto Pereyra has been chosen to play alongside the impressive Di Natale up front for Udinese, who are without Maurizio Domizzi after he failed a late fitness test. Full team news for both sides coming up.

7.38pmAC MILAN STARTING XI: Gabriel; Abate, Silvestre, Zapata, Constant; Poli, Montolivo, Muntari, Birsa; Robinho, Matri

7.39pmUDINESE STARTING XI: Kelava; Heurtaux, Danilo, Naldo, Basta, Pinzi, Allan, Lazzari, Gabriel Silva, Pereyra, Di Natale

7.40pmPREDICTION: We're nearing kickoff at the San Siro, so it is about time I made a prediction for tonight's match. It is a hard one to call as I expect both teams to improve their performances soon, if not tonight. Milan are missing a whole host of players through injury but also have that home advantage which is so important to their form. I think this one will end as a draw, and I'll go for 2-2.

7.42pmMilan won't be in panic stations just yet following their poor start to the season. They were in a similar position last year, sitting 11th in the table with just seven points at this stage before they kicked on and reached the Champions League once more.

7.44pmUdinese are notoriously slow starters, so they also won't be too worried just yet. At this stage last season, they had only beaten Milan.

7.45pmUdinese's record here against Milan is not good, however. They have not won here since January 2010, while the last league win over Milan here was way back in 2007, when they triumphed 3-2.

1 minKICKOFF: Udinese get us underway at the San Siro in a big match for both sides and they immediately look to go on the attack, but Milan resist the first wave with ease.

3 minMilan have made a couple of promising moves forward in these opening stages but nothing to worry the visitors too much. Both sides are just easing their way into this one at the moment.

5 minUdinese have an early corner after good work from Gabriel Silva, and the defending from the resulting set piece is poor. Milan get a rather soft free kick, but about four of them evacuated the middle of the box to go to the front post, and there were two or three Udinese players who would have had an easy finish had the ball reached them.

6 minGood, commanding goalkeeping from Gabriel, and that will give him lots of confidence on his debut. He comes to collect a cross and immediately looks to build another attack, finding Robinho with a long kick forward. The attack comes to nothing, but it was good play by Gabriel.

7 minBirsa cuts onto his right foot and unleashes a powerful strike towards the near post, trying to catch the keeper off guard. It is too close to Kelava, who makes an easy save, but it was a good, ambitious effort from the Milan man.

9 minThe fans are making a decent noise at the moment, but Milan's current struggles are perhaps best summed up by the amount of empty seats around the place for tonight's match. This great club is just not used to seeing so many.

11 minMilan are just about on top at the moment as they patiently probe for a way through the Udinese defence. They aren't budging at the moment, however, and we are still waiting for our first real chance of the match.

13 minBasta has a small sight of goal from 25 yards out, but the Milan defence get out to him very well, blocking the shot as it deflects behind for a corner, which is also well defended.

15 minGabriel has not had too much trouble in the opening 15 minutes, but he has done what he has had to do well so far. His latest test, albeit a minor one, was to control and clear a bobbling pass back with a striker bearing down on him, and he did it well. That is the type of thing that is especially nerve-racking on your debut.

17 minRobinho finally finds a bit of space on his dangerous left foot, but he can't find the target with his strike and a good opportunity goes begging for the hosts.

19 minStill nothing much to report in terms of chances for either side. These are two sets of players who are low on confidence, and perhaps that is the reason why we haven't had much goalmouth action so far.

21 minYELLOW CARD! That is a really poor challenge from Pinzi, who scrapes his studs right down the calf of Birsa to halt a promising run in its tracks. He is rightly booked, and can perhaps be a little relieved that it was nothing more.

22 minGOAL! AC Milan 1-0 Udinese (Valter Birsa)

22 minThat is a stunning strike from Birsa, who has recovered well enough from that poor tackle! He whips the ball into the top corner from 25 yards, curling the effort past the despairing dive of Kelava, who could do nothing. Brilliant strike, and how Milan needed that!

24 minMatri makes a promising break, but he was not on the same page as Poli, who hadn't made the run to match his striker's pass. The fans are getting louder, though.

25 minYELLOW CARD! That is an incredibly soft yellow card for Montolivo, who goes into the book for the smallest of touches on Pinzi, who goes tumbling to the ground. That was never a booking.

27 minBirsa is enjoying himself right now. He makes his way down the right, beating his man and working enough space to send a dangerous low ball across the face of goal. Robinho isn't far away from getting to it at the front post and it goes all the way through to Kelava, who punches it away.

29 minMilan move the ball across to Constant on the left wing, and Matri almost makes something of a terrible cross. It bobbles along the floor to the striker, whose hooked effort is deflected behind for a corner.

31 minCLOSE! Superb effort from Silva, who ends a patient build-up from the visitors with a thunderous effort from range. It just swings away at the last second and ends up a yard or so wide of the post, but that was a tremendous hit from the Brazilian.

33 minBirsa looks like Milan's most dangerous player at the moment. Again he works space to cross the ball and, while this one is over-hit, it had a nice shape to it and looked for a moment like it would sneak in at the far post.

35 minThings are just getting a little scrappy now as both sides look to dominate midfield. Udinese are still yet to create anything of any real note, while the same could also apply to Milan with the exception of Birsa's wonder strike.

36 minPereyra squeezes a square pass to Basta, who is given far too much space on the edge of the box. He is able to take a touch and shoot, but his effort deflects behind for a corner.

37 minFrom the resulting corner Danilo rises highest and nods it into a dangerous area, but no black and white shirts were alert enough to take advantage.

39 minThis fixture certainly has a history of goals, averaging almost five per game over the last 10 meetings. Neither side has kept a clean sheet in his fixture during that time either, so hopefully the second half will be laden with goals.

41 minGabriel is out quickly to collect a chipped ball over the top meant for Pereyra. He probably couldn't have hoped for an easy first half of Serie A action than he has had so far. Udinese really haven't threatened his goal yet.

43 minUdinese are probably on top now and have been for the last five or 10 minutes or so. Milan haven't been able to take control of the match since going ahead, but they still look fairly comfortable in defence.

45 minThe fourth official indicates just the one minute of added time at the end of this half.

45+1 minHALF TIME: AC Milan 1-0 Udinese

8.36pmThe referee brings an end to what was, quite frankly, a dull half of football. In a game that usually leaks goals, we have been treated to just one so far, and there has been very little promise of either side adding to that tally. Chances have been few and far between, and it is clear that these are two sides lacking confidence at the moment.

8.38pmThat being said, what has been a largely forgettable half was lit up by Valter Birsa's goal, which was from the top drawer. The Slovenian hammered his shot into the top corner from range after teed up by Robinho. The keeper really had no chance.

8.40pmBirsa has probably been the main highlight of the match so far. He is a player who has been heavily criticised during his time at Milan due to the fans not feeling that he is good enough to play for the club. They may be re-evaluating those feelings right now, however.

8.42pmFrom an Udinese point of view, there isn't really much to say. The visitors have lacked any sort of creativity in the final third, with a long range strike from Gabriel Silva being the closest they have come. They have not had a single shot on target - a statistic that Guidolin will be furious with considering Milan have a debutant in goal - and have not looked like scoring at all. They simply must improve in the second half or their recent away day woes will continue.

8.44pmAt the same time, Milan haven't exactly blown the opposition away either. They do narrowly deserve their lead at the break, but it has been a match devoid of any real quality with the exception of the goal.

8.46pmAs things stand, Milan will move up to seventh place, above Lazio on goals scored and one point ahead of Udinese, who would drop to ninth. With things as they are at the San Siro so far, a result is a higher priority than a good performance, but that display in the opening 45 minutes will not reassure their fans ahead of their match against Barcelona on Tuesday.

46 minKICKOFF: AC Milan get us back underway for the second half. Hopefully we will see more chances and a few more goals in the coming 45 minutes.

48 minUdinese have started this second half the better side with a few corners, but they still haven't threatened the Milan goal just yet. The last two Udinese corners have been dreadful, skimming across the floor before being cleared by the first man.

50 minDespite this being a poor performance from Milan so far, it would be a really good win if they can hold on. They went into the match in poor form and severely weakened through injury so, while the display will not exactly have been morale-boosting, it would be a valuable three points under tough circumstances.

52 minYELLOW CARDS! Muntari and Pereyra are both shown yellow cards for an altercation in which Muntari raised his arms to the neck of the Udinese man, who reacted angrily. It was all a bit of handbags, but the ref is probably right to caution them both.

54 minUdinese seem to have changed tactics to a 3-4-3 formation now, which is an attacking move from the coach. He needed to do something to apply a spark to his side, so let's see if this works.

55 minSAVE! At last, Udinese test the keeper! Di Natale is inevitably the man who does so, getting the ball out of his feet before squeezing a low shot towards the bottom corner. It lacks sufficient power to test Gabriel, however, and the Brazilian gets down comfortably to make his first save as an AC Milan keeper.

58 minGood move from Milan down the left as Muntari slips the ball to Constant, who hangs a cross into the middle of the area. It is just too high for Matri, however, and Udinese are able to clear the ball away.

60 minIt just isn't happening for either side in the final third at the moment. Both teams are lacking any real sort of cutting edge and we are still waiting for our first good chance an hour in. Even the goal can't really be counted as a chance as it was a long way out!

62 minUdinese now have a free kick in a good position and, with someone like Di Natale on the field, this would rank as probably their best chance of the match so far. It is slightly wider than he would like, but he has the quality to make something of this.

63 minOFF THE BAR! It is a superb effort from Di Natale, who swings it right towards the top corner. Gabriel is at full stretch and gets a vital hand to the ball to tip it onto the bar and out for a corner. Very good save from the debutant, and by far Udinese's best moment of the match so far.

65 minUdinese have a couple of corners in quick succession to follow that free kick, but they come to nothing. The second was cleared by Gabriel, who came through a lot of bodies to get something on the ball. Confident goalkeeping from the Brazilian.

67 minOh what an earth is Poli doing there?! He does really well to beat his man and get into a really good shooting position with only the keeper to beat, but instead he chooses to pull the ball back where none of his teammates are! He just had to shoot then, I can only think of a lack of confidence being the reason why he didn't.

69 minMILAN SUB: Off goes the goalscorer Birsa, who hasn't really had an impact in the second half, and on comes Mbaye Niang.

70 minNiang is involved straight away, flashing the ball right across the face of goal but just beyond the incoming runs of Robinho and Matri.

72 minSAVE! Nice play from Poli as he sends two defenders packing with a fake shot, allowing him to advance into the box. He then tries to beat Kelava at his near post through sheer power, but the Udinese keeper stayed big and parried the effort away.

74 minThere are less than 20 minutes left in this match now and still Udinese are yet to show any real urgency to try to get back into this match. Di Natale's free kick has been the only sniff of a chance that they have had. When will it be time for the kitchen sink?

75 minUDINESE SUB: Perhaps this is the start of a concerted effort for the equaliser. Pinzi comes off to be replaced by Piotr Zielinski, who came on for Poland against England on Tuesday.

76 minZielinski is involved immediately, running on to a pass before trying to float a ball over the top to Di Natale. It was a good idea from the Pole, but he put too much on it and it was easy for Gabriel to collect.

77 minRobinho finds Matri, who takes a touch before firing a powerful strike over the bar from a fairly tight angle. That was always going to be a fairly ambitious effort from a man still looking for his first Milan goal.

78 minMILAN SUB: Kaka is going to get a chance to add a little inspiration to this game after an injury-hit start to his return to Milan. He replaces Matri.

80 minLazzari goes for goal from range, but his effort is deflected wide again. Udinese just haven't been able to work their way through the weakened Milan defence tonight. They have been limited to long shots, and even they have been few and far between.

81 minYELLOW CARDS! A minor flare-up between Robinho and Allan and for a moment it looks like they will exchange blows. The referee calms the situation down quickly, however, and shows both Brazilians a yellow card.

83 minI really can't see where another goal will come from in this match. Barring another moment of magic, like we had for the first, or a major error, this one looks like it will end 1-0 as neither attack looks capable of finding a way through.

84 minCHANCE! Just as I say that, Muriel has a decent opening for the visitors but is crowded out by Abate. Di Natale slipped a short pass into the path of his strike partner, but his first touch was a little heavy and, with the addition of Abate's presence, he can't beat the keeper to it.

86 minMILAN SUB: The third and final change of the day for Milan sees Antonio Nocerino come on in place of Sulley Muntari.

88 minAnother pass goes astray for Milan and the home fans are noticeably growing tired of such a lacklustre display despite leading in the closing stages here. Frustration is the overwhelming emotion around the stadium at the moment.

89 minUDINESE SUB: Final change of the day for Udinese as Mattias Ranegie replaces Pereyra. The incoming Swede should give them a target man for the last few minutes, although I can't imagine that there will be much stoppage time at the end of this match.

90 minWhat do I know? The forth official indicates four minutes of added time, although I am not quite sure where those four minutes have come from. Still, it could be a nervy finish for the hosts.

90+2 minRanegie is certainly making a difference as Udinese finally begin to apply a bit of pressure. They are now hoisting high balls into the box hoping that the Swede can flick it on for Di Natale.

90+3 minThese home supporters are really not happy at the moment. Niang is the latest to draw their ire as he slices a shot well wide from 25 yards out. He would have been better keeping hold of it there with just over a minute remaining.

90+4 minNiang again chooses to go for goal instead of keeping hold of the ball, but at least this time his effort is closer. He drags a rather tame shot a yard or so past the near post, but Kelava had it covered.

90+4 minFULL TIME: AC Milan 1-0 Udinese

9.39pmWell, that one will not go down in the folder marked 'classic matches' that's for sure. Both sides were far short of their best and, in truth, neither side really deserved to win, such was the quality - or lack thereof - of their performances. Still, Milan have come away with the three points, and it is a vital win for them as they look to get their season on track following a poor start.

9.41pmIt was not a good performance from Milan but, such was their form in recent weeks that a win was really all that mattered. That didn't prevent the home fans from voicing their displeasure at a dull and dreary match tonight, though, with a number of players drawing the ire of the San Siro. One thing is for certain, if they play like that against Barcelona on Tuesday, it could be an embarrassing night for them.

9.43pmUdinese, meanwhile, will be even more disappointed in their performance than Milan. They were dreadful tonight, only looking like scoring on one occasion when Di Natale's fine free kick was tipped onto the crossbar. That was one of two highlights from the match, the first being Birsa's superb goal in the first half.

9.45pmRight, that is all we have time for tonight! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for an important, if not entertaining 90 minutes of Serie A football as Milan run out narrow victors over Udinese. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to check back in for plenty more live football tomorrow. From me, though, it is goodbye!

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AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri on the touchline during the match against PSV Eindhoven on August 20, 2013
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