AC Milan have beaten Cagliari once more, taking their 10th win in a row. More importantly, the rossoneri claimed three points while avoiding the embarassment of once again losing to an inferior side. To be fair to the visitors, Cagliari showed they won't be an easy side to beat this season, but their performance wasn't enough to take anything away from the San Siro.
Massimiliano Allegri surprised everyone by leaving Stephan El Shaarawy on the bench, which will probably just increase the rumors about him leaving Milan. Instead Allegri fielded four central midfielders, with Riccardo Montolivo as sort of a trequartista, behind Robinho and Mario Balotelli.
Milan started pressing from the whistle, keeping the most of the ball, while the visitors mostly waited in their own half... for 8 minutes. That's when Balotelli took the ball down the right, flew past Daniele Dessena and crossed the ball in the penalty area, where players of both teams managed to missed connecting. Somehow Robinho managed to latch on to the loose ball, and he easily beat Michael Agazzi from close range.
Only two minutes later, Robinho created another chance for himself but only managed to hit the post. Unlike last week's match against Verona, Milan didn't just stop playing after they took the lead. Instead they took the novel approach of trying to score again, pushing the isolani back to their half, but didn't manage to create many clear cut chances.
As Milan slowly passed the ball around, controlling possession, Cagliari started to feel more confident and attack more. In the middle of their sort-of-pressure, however, Milan scored their second goal. Ignazio Abate crossed in, Balotelli took a powerful shot, and Agazzi made a great save...but Phillipe Mexes was close and scored an easy goal off the rebound.
Cagliari responded quickly this time, putting in their only goal just two minutes later, in the 33rd. Marco Sau took the ball on the left side, cut in and sent his shot toward the far post. Christian Abbiati could do nothing to stop the lovely, curing shot. The visitors found themselves back in the match and pressed hard for an equalizer, coming close soon after when Sau crossed in for Daniele Conti, but Cristian Zapata cleared the ball.
The cagliaritani started the second half in the same fashion, making the rossoneri retreat to their half and keeping the ball most of the time. Ignazio Abate saved his team in the 50th minute when he closed down Radja Nainggolan who was in a very good position to endanger Milan's goal.
The visitors were spending more and more time in Milan's half, looking dangerous enough to bring a worried look to Allegri's face. But just like in the first half, Milan found their goal amidst the Cagliari pressure. It was the third goal for il diavolo and all three came after a cross from the right side. This time, Lorenzo Ariaudo deflected Abate's cross, but the ball fell to Balotelli, and SuperMario had no problems putting it past Agazzi.
After that, Milan took control of the game, slowing the tempo. Cagliari still managed to create a few chances, in particular a late threat from that man Sau, who forced a save from Abbiati. Still, while the rossoneri probably gave Cagliari a bit too much freedom, Milan still walked away with all three points, marking an improvement on last week's performance.
Milan: Abbiati, Abate, Mexes, Zapata, Emanuelson, Poli (Nocerino 78'), De Jong, Muntari, Montolivo (Montolivo 88'), Balotelli, Robinho (Matri 65')
Goals: Robinho 7', Mexes 30', Balotelli 62'
Cagliari: Agazzi, Dessena, Rossettini, Ariaudo, Murru, Ekdal, Conti, Nainggolan, Cabrera (Ibarbo 59'), Pinilla (Nene 71'), Sau (Erikkson 78')
Goals: Sau 33'