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Alessandro Nesta


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GOALKEEPERS: Dida, Kalac, Storari

DEFENDERS: Bonera, Cafu, Costacurta, Favalli, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Oddo, Serginho Simic,

MIDFIELDERS: Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf

STRIKERS: Inzaghi, Oliveira

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GOALKEEPERS: Dida, Kalac, Storari;

DEFENDERS: Bonera, Cafu, Favalli, Grimi, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Nesta, Oddo;

MIDFIELDERS: Ambrosini, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Serginho;

STRIKERS: Gilardino, Ricardo Oliveira, Ronaldo.

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MESSINA (4-5-1): Paoletti; Lavecchia, Zanchi, Iuliano, Giallombardo; Alvarez, Pestrin, D'Aversa, De Vezze, Masiello; Riganò.

MILAN (4-3-1-2): Dida; Cafu, Bonera, Kaladze, Favalli; Gattuso, Pirlo, Gourcuff; Kakà; Gilardino, Ronaldo.

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KEEPERS: Fiori, Kalac, Storari

DEFENDERS: Bonera, Favalli, Grimi, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Nesta, Oddo, Simic

MIDFIELDERS: Ambrosini, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf

STRIKERS: Gilardino, Ricardo Oliveira, Ronaldo

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ASCOLI: Eleftheropoulos; Melara, Corallo, Lombardi; Foglio, Guberti, Di Biagio, Boudianski, Pesce; Soncin, Paolucci

MILAN: Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Nesta, Jankulovski; Ambrosini, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà; Ronaldo, Gilardino.

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Ascoli 2:5 AC Milan - match report

Scorers: Gilardino 3, 27 (M), Kaka pen 25, 34 (M), Di Biagio pen 30 (A), Guberti 41 (A), Seedorf 75 (M)

Milan consolidated fourth place and closed in on Lazio with this five-star performance at the Del Duca.

The Rossoneri were hoping to continue their fine form that had taken them into fourth place, but were forced to reshuffle their squad due to injury worries for Nelson Dida, Marcos Cafu, Paolo Maldini and Cristian Brocchi. Ascoli are propping up the table, but gave Lazio horrible problems at the weekend with a 2-2 draw. Sasa Bjelanovic was suspended.

It took just two and a half minutes to open the scoring at the Stadio Del Duca. Lombardi kept everyone onside as Ronaldo flicked the ball over for Alberto Gilardino's cool finish from nine yards.

Kaka surged forward and smashed a right-foot effort towards the base of the near post, kept out by a one-handed Dimitrios Eleftheropoulos save.

Ronaldo hit the back of the net on 11 minutes, but it was disallowed for a very tight offside position.

Ascoli fought back, as Zeljko Kalac spilled a Lombardi free kick and the Milan defence was able to clear. But the Rossoneri had the better of the play with Eleftheropoulos flying to tip a Massimo Ambrosini header out from under the bar.

Ronaldo and Kaka exchanged quick passes for a blistering counter-attack and Eleftheropoulos brought down Il Fenomeno for a penalty. The younger Brazilian stepped up and rolled it past the goalkeeper to double Milan's lead.

Just 120 seconds it was 3-0. The Ascoli defence was static as Gilardino kneeled down to angle his header from a Marek Jankulovski cross.

Gilardino sprung the offside trap from Kaka's pass and opted to roll across for Ronaldo rather than go for glory himself.

The referee gave Ascoli a lifeline when Guberti ran between defenders and Kalac clumsily brought him down for a penalty. Luigi Di Biagio converted at the near post.

Ronaldo had another goal disallowed for offside, but it didn't matter as Kaka unleashed a rocket from the edge of the area that swung past Eleftheropoulos' outstretched hand at the near post.

Just before the break Ascoli closed the gap once more for 4-2. Guberti's angled drive rolled into the far corner, as Corallo's dummy proved crucial in confusing the Milan back line.

After the restart Paolucci had a goal disallowed for a push on Daniele Bonera as they both entered the box.

Clarence Seedorf's long-range drive stung Eleftheropoulos' palms and the Dutchman scored on 75 minutes. He chested down Andrea Pirlo's chipped pass over the defence and lobbed the goalkeeper.

Milan gave Grimi his official debut in the Rossoneri jersey.

Ascoli: Eleftheropoulos; Melara, Corallo, Lombardi; Foglio, Guberti, Di Biagio (Perrulli 46), Boudianski, Pesce; Soncin (Fini 46), Paolucci (Delvecchio 71)

Milan: Kalac; Oddo, Bonera, Nesta, Jankulovski; Ambrosini, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kakà (Gattuso 46); Ronaldo (Oliveira 67), Gilardino (Grimi 77)

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Manchester United - Milan

GOALKEEPERS: Dida, Kalac, Fiori, Storari.

DEFENDERS: Bonera, Cafu, Costacurta, Favalli, Jankulovski, Kaladze, Maldini, Nesta, Oddo, Serginho, Simic.

MIDFIELDERS: Ambrosini, Brocchi, Gattuso, Gourcuff, Kakà, Pirlo, Seedorf.

STRIKERS: Gilardino, Inzaghi, R. Oliveira.

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Manchester United 3:2 AC Milan - match report

Scorers: Ronaldo 6 (Ma) Kaka 22, 37 (Mi), Rooney 60, 91 (Ma)

Kaka's brace shook Old Trafford, but Manchester United fought back to win 3-2 in the very open Champions League semi-final.

Nelson Dida recovered from a shoulder injury to start in the stadium where Milan won the 2003 Champions League, while Alberto Gilardino returned from his ban for this semi-final first leg, but Ronaldo was cup-tied. Manchester United were hoping to repeat their remarkable 7-1 win over Roma, but were missing Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and Nemanja Vidic.

Alessandro Nesta got back quickly to deflect a Wayne Rooney shot over the bar, but from the resulting corner kick Dida lost sight of the corner kick and only got a hand to Cristiano Ronaldo's header, instead bundling it over the line. It was a howler from the Brazilian and gave Manchester United the lead after just six minutes. Although originally credited as an own goal, it was later awarded to Ronaldo.

Dida made up for it a little later, flying to push away a Michael Carrick volley into the ground.

Massimo Ambrosini couldn't get enough power on his header from a Massimo Oddo cross, then O'Shea performed a crucial challenge on Clarence Seedorf inside the area.

Milan were growing and on 22 minutes drew level. Kaka did his trademark change of pace to run on to a Seedorf through ball, blaze past Gabriel Heinze and stroke an angled left-foot drive into the bottom far corner. The Brazilian consolidated his position as Champions League top scorer this season on eight goals in 11 games.

Ryan Giggs' header looped well over and the Welsh wizard's cross soon after just went past Rooney's outstretched foot when it just needed a touch to send it past Dida.

The Milan goalkeeper beat away a Ronaldo snapshot with his palms and Nesta was able to clear the loose ball as it came back in.

If Manchester United's goal was granted by a defensive howler, then the Reds restored the favour. Kaka headed the ball forward, flicked and headed again to send Patrice Evra and Heinze clattering into each other. So the Selecao star had an open goal to aim at and give Milan the lead and a precious second away strike.

Moments later Kaka unleashed a missile from over 30 metres that Edwin Van der Sar palmed round the post. From the corner Nesta's header was over. Evra was booked for holding Oddo and will be suspended for the second leg. Soon after he brought down Gennaro Gattuso, risking another card.

On the stroke of half-time, Andrea Pirlo's free kick drifted past the near post.

Paolo Maldini suffered a recurrence of his knee injury and was replaced by Daniele Bonera in the second period. Manchester United had a great chance to draw level when a corner came to Carrick completely unmarked at the back post, but he somehow sidefooted wide from six yards.

Seedorf played a defensive role, clearing the pass before it could reach Paul Scholes. During that move Gattuso went down with that recurring injury and was stretchered off to make way for Cristian Brocchi.

Pirlo's pass over the defence sent Kaka clear on the counter, but this time his finish across the face of goal was off target.

A splendid team move sparked by Massimo Ambrosini went through Kaka, Seedorf and back for the Brazilian to volley over as he lost his balance under pressure.

However, just as Milan seemed to be in control, Scholes flicked the ball up in the air for Rooney to shake off a challenge and prod past Dida as he rushed forward desperately. Again, the goalkeeper got a touch, but it was not enough.

There was controversy when Kaka and Giggs were both booked for an incident, as the referee stopped play to award a free kick when Kaka was rushing forward.

Rooney's lob was cleared and it fell to a Darren Fletcher strike that Dida saved brilliantly at point-blank range. The 'keeper also captured a deflected Giggs effort.

Giggs turned a free kick round the near post, although Kaka's challenge had been on the ball, not Scholes. Bonera did bring down Rooney in a similar position and was booked, though once again Giggs' set-piece was disappointing.

Former Juventus goalkeeper Van der Sar smothered a Pirlo free kick. Nesta's brave sliding tackle to close down Ronaldo saw both fly into the advertising boards and require treatment.

Heinze managed to close down Kaka's counter and Fletcher's angled drive was straight at Dida.

Cristiano Ronaldo dropped two defenders with his step-overs and Dida fingertipped it on to the side-netting.

Yoann Gourcuff replaced the extremely quiet Gilardino, who barely touched the ball all night. It was another substitute, Brocchi, who foolishly gave the ball away to Giggs in midfield in stoppages. The Manchester United man ran forward and Rooney hit a first-time shot low in at the near post to make it 3-2.

Milan: Dida; Oddo, Nesta, Maldini (Bonera 46), Jankulovski; Gattuso (Brocchi 53), Pirlo, Ambrosini, Seedorf; Kaka; Gilardino (Gourcuff 84)

Manchester United: Van der Sar; O’Shea, Brown, Heinze, Evra; Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes; Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney, Giggs

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