Coppa Italia Final - A.C. Milan vs Cesena
Welcome to the live coverage of the Coppa Italia Final between Prandelli's A.C. Milan and Bisoli's Cesena at the Olimpico. It is well-documented that Cesena have yet to beat Milan at home or away this season, with Prandelli master-minding a nervy 2-1 win a couple months ago. The preview will now commence with pundit Alessandro Nesta and Adrian Mutu providing the facts and line-ups for A.C. Milan and Cesena respectively.
The heavy favourites, A.C. Milan will be looking to be the team in the podium once the whistle is blown as Prandelli's troops are on a great patch of form. With Destro and Pazzini forming a deadly-duo as of late, it would be foolish for someone to bet against the Rossoneri
A.C. Milan will play a fully-fledged side in the final, as this is the final game of the season. Playing a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond, Prandelli will rely on Diego Lopez on the sticks, whilst Mattia de Sciglio, Adil Rami, Salvatore Bocchetti and Stefan Radu will be on defensive duties today. In the middle of the park, Nigel de Jong will be accompanied by Marco van Ginkel and Japanese international, Keisuke Honda. Meanwhile, Suso will be the connector between the attack and the midfield, to where he will lay-off support to Pazzini and Destro.
A.C. Milan's journey towards the Coppa Italia final began with an Udinese win at home, and was followed by a Palermo win. They were kindly given the draw against Chievo, to whom they beat 3-1 at San Siro, and had a shock loss against them in Verona for the second-leg.
The massive underdogs and giant slayer, Cesena finished 9th in the Serie A this season, surprising pundits and fans alike. Cesena will not be able to count on Jesus Vallejo as he still is nursing a torn hamstring injury and it is believed that Massimo Volta will take his place. Vincenzo Renella remains the goalscorer with five goals during the competition and Rami, along with Bocchetti will be the men tasked to stop the 26 year-old. Will Cesena's fairytale run continue all the way to lifting the title this night?
Cesena will play their strongest side today, as they bid to win their first Coppa Italia in their first final in the competition. Bisoli has chosen the ever-impressive Nicola Leali to defend his goal, whilst Daniele Capelli, Massimo Volta, Luka Krajnc and Francesco Renzetti have the difficult duty to shut down a resurgent Milan side. Bisoli decided to scratch his preferred 4-2-3-1 to play three players in the middle of the pitch, which include Ricardo Cazzola, Emmanuel Cascione and former Verona midfielder Jacopo Sala. By the wings, Federico Bernarderschi and Andrija Zivkovic will be tasked to feed the ball to the lone striker, which is Vincenzo Renella.
Cesena, by no means had any easy draws and their venture to the final was complicated by three of the top four that finished in the Serie A. These included wins against Roma, Inter and Napoli, whilst beating lower-league sides like Perugia and Livorno.
1' - Hello and welcome to the Olimpico, where Cesena will start the game! Off we go!
2' - It looks like Cesena will try to control the ball as Cazzola passes the ball sideways, not letting Milan have a look at the ball as both Honda and Suso run after the ball. Oh wait, Cascione makes too short of a pass back to Renzetti, who is caught out of position. Honda beats the left-back to the ball and looks for someone in the middle. He crosses it to Pazzini and OH MY GOD WHAT A SAVE BY LEALI! He manages to tip the ball into the post, and Krajnc is there to clear the danger. Cascione error straight out in the beginning almost made his club pay.
16' - Cesena have found themselves napping before and Bisoli's angry calls have definitely waked them up now. Sala makes a good pass to Bernarderschi, who is tussling with De Sciglio for the ball.. He attempts to cross it, but it looks like Lopez is going to make a routine save by it.. Oh wait, he fumbles the ball. Renella bolts towards the ball and beats the 32 year-old goalkeeper and has an open goal! GOAL BY CESENA!
24' - It is worth noting that Cesena are now piling men at the back as they look to retain their lead, at least until the end of the first half. Bisoli calls out for Renella to neutralize De Jong and be a step of him personally as the Dutch international is cutting out any passes that they try to feed him on the counter.
33' - It's Milan's period of time as they continue to press and look for a goal. Suso controls the ball and passes it back to van Ginkel. He sees a run being made by Destro and he makes a great pass. Destro on a 1v1 against Leali and he DENIES Milan again! Prandelli looks at his strikers in disbelief as they can't score against the soon-to-become permanent Cesena player.
44' - Milan, once again dominating as Cesena are anchoring their 11 players behind their own half, by the looks of it. van Ginkel plays it to Honda who has some space.. It looks like he's taking his time to take a shot and the ball hits Capelli, and it's close to getting in as Leali dived the other way! DENIED! Leali quickly gets up and punches the bouncing ball into a corner-kick. Prandelli scoffs in disbelief as the long-shot is yet again saved by the young Italian goalkeeper. How many times will Cesena have their skins saved by Leali?!
45' - It's half time here at the Olimpico, and against all the odds it's Cesena in the lead. Leali has been the savior for Cesena, commanding his box well, and making three Buffon remniscent saves. By the looks of it, Cesena are happy to sit back and defend, with Cazzola snuffing out any long-range through the ground passing as he has 2 interceptions at the moment.
45' - A.C. Milan kick off, they need to score quickly if they want this to be ending once the 90th minute comes.
49' - Terrific save by Leali once again! Suso unbalances Cazzola who falls on his feet, and lures out Krajnc, and makes a perfect pass to Destro who cannot pass Leali for his dear life. Surely he will be subbed out?
63' - It's time for Destro and Honda to come off, as they are booed by Rossoneri fans after not performing today. Alessio Cerci will replace Destro, whilst Bonaventura will take Honda's place.
65' - De Jong intercepts Sala's pass yet again! He attempts a pass to Bonaventura, which succeeds. Bonaventura makes a one-two with Cerci and he's through! CAZZOLA OUT OF NOWHERE makes a perfect last-ditch tackle to deny Bonaventura! Great stuff by the loanee!
70' - Cesena continue to absorb the pressure as this is the Rossoneri's 14th shot of the match. It's sky-high but it still not appeases Leali who is barking orders at his team-mates that no long-shot must be given away.
74' Prandelli sends in captain Riccardo Montolivo to motivate his team-mates into scoring a goal.
83' - It is time for Cesena substitutions, where they will, strangely, play a 5-1-2-1-1. Magnusson is added as the third centre-back as Zivkovic is subbed off. The other substitution will see Renella go off, while fan favorite Franco Brienza makes the Cesena fans roar with his introduction. Looks like Bernarderschi will lead the lines, then.
87' - Milan are getting nervy here as the time is running out for them to equalize. Bonaventura whips in a cross, and CERCI HEADS THE BALL IN! LEALI HAS FINALLY BEEN BEATEN BY THE ROSSONERI! MILAN'S FANS GO INTO A RAPTUROUS ROAR WHILE CESENA FANS ARE SILENCED. WILL THIS SEND THE FINAL TO EXTRA-TIME?
93' - Cesena restart the game with a Franco Brienza who is attempting to cheer his beaten-down team-mates.
94' - Lombardo whistles for regular time, into extra-time we go!
90' - Once again, Cesena restart the game, this time from extra-time.
105' - The first-half of extra-time has gone quickly as Cesena are looking to decide the final at penalties. A few words from both managers occur with the players prior to Milan restarting the game.
111' Mattia de Sciglio goes into the referee's booking as he tackles Brienza down, with the 36 year-old Italian clutching his leg down in the ground. He must be careful if he wants to remain in the game.
112' Pazzini holds up the ball but is taken down by Magnusson who was introduced late into the second-half. Surely another yellow card? Magnusson is booked by Lombardo. The game is stopped as Jacopo Sala, who has had a good game will be hauled off as Nico Pulzetti, a known penalty-taker within the squad will take his place for the last 8 minutes of play.
117' - What is he doing? He's earned himself the shame of being sent-off! De Sciglio takes yet another blow at Brienza who must've been getting under his skin! Prandelli, without any substitutions will have to play De Jong as right-back as Cesena get a chance to attack for the final 3 minutes of the game!
120+4' - Alessio Cerci cannot go further. The A.C. Milan physio have been working on the loanee for a time now and Prandelli will have to count on the 9 players on the pitch to win this final on penalties.
Some words of encouragement by both managers, with Bisoli being zoomed by the camera during this instant. This could be the last match Bisoli manages Cesena, as he is linked to the open position at Juventus.
Giampaolo Pazzini looks confident as he takes the ball and puts it in the kick-spot. He makes his run and sends Leali the wrong way! 1-0 up for Milan!
Up steps Franco Brienza. This perhaps will be his last-kick of his career, as he has announced his retirement last month. He makes his run and he MISSES! He hit the bar and the ball cannoned off the post. 1-0 Milan.
Suso will now take Milan's next penalty. The former Liverpool playmaker looks calm and he chips the ball in the middle, leaving Leali giving him a stink eye. 2-0 for Milan!
Federico Bernarderschi, who looks tired and inspires no sort of confidence to Cesena fans watching will take the next penalty kick. He makes his run and shoots! HE SCORES! The score is now 2-1 with Lopez unable to reach his shot at the top-right of his goal.
Their captain steps up now, as Montolivo looks Leali directly in the eye. Will this technique work? Montolivo shoots! Leali tips the ball into the post, where it cruelly goes back in! It counts! 3-1 for Milan.
Up next is fresh off the bench, Nico Pulzetti. He makes an explosive run and sends Lopez the wrong way. The score is now 3-2.
Let the information be told that if Cesena win, they will qualify for Europa League. If they lose, Sampdoria will qualify as the next team in the league as Milan already qualified that competition via the league.
Milan will be in a commanding position if Bonaventura manages to score. He looked well during the match, so it must be no problem for him. He shoots.. and SCORES! 4-2.. IF Cesena miss the next penalty, Prandelli will have a title on his hands!
The little hope that Cesena have to win the title rests on Luka Krajnc. The centre-back smashes the ball into the middle, much to the dismay of Diego Lopez. 4-3!
Bisoli has a long sigh, and talks with his assistant manager Santoni.
De Jong, who has had a great match sniffing out passes will take the decisive penalty. Leali moves desperately to distract de Jong. de Jong shoots to the middle and LEALI SAVES! 4-3, Cesena have been given a life-line by the poor penalty by de Jong!
Emmanuel Cascione can now level it, taking it to sudden-death. Should he miss, Milan win the Coppa Italia. Up he steps.. HE SCORES! Cesena fans are going crazy! SUDDEN-DEATH!
Stefan Radu quietly walks as Cesena fans are cheering for their team and the Rossoneri fans cannot be heard at all. Not inspiring at all. Radu makes his run and SHOOTS! TO THE MIDDLE WHERE LEALI SAVES IT AGAIN! IF CESENA SCORE THEY WIN THEIR FIRST COPPA ITALIA IN THEIR HISTORY!
Cesena fans are going ecstatic by this.. They should be careful as football is a cruel game.. Cazzola, who will become a free transfer this summer steps up.. He shoots.. AND HE SCORES!! Lopez stays still as CAZZOLA SMASHES THE BALL! CESENA WIN THE COPPA ITALIA. THE FAIRY-TALE COMES TRUE FOR CESENA AND BISOLI.
Cesare Prandelli stares at disbelief. Leali has denied him five-times this match to his first title with Milan.