Thursday, August 10, 2006

Super Pippo

Inzaghi birthday strike gives Milan narrow lead
MILAN, Aug 9 (Reuters) - AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi celebrated his 33rd birthday with the goal that secured a 1-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in their Champions League third qualifying round, first leg match on Wednesday.

Despite Inzaghi's 22nd minute strike the six-times European champions still have a lot of work to do in the return match in two weeks' time in the Serbian capital.

Milan, who originally finished runners-up in Serie A last season, found themselves in the Champions League qualifying round after being demoted to third place by an Italian sports tribunal that examined a match-rigging scandal.

UEFA cleared Milan to face Red Star due to a lack of legal grounds to exclude them but European soccer's governing body scolded the Italian club in a statement that spoke of the damage they had "already caused to European football".

Red Star gave the home side an early scare when Blagoj Georgiev was picked out unmarked inside the area but Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Dida saved well.

Brazilian Kaka then went close for Milan before providing the pass that allowed Inzaghi to confidently strike home from inside the area to put Carlo Ancelotti's side ahead.

Milan had chances after the break but Red Star keeper Ivan Randjelovic was in top form as he twice foiled Alberto Gilardino and kept out an effort from Dutchman Clarence Seedorf to ensure the Serbians have everything to play for in the second leg.

Happy b-day Pippo...One of my favorite players, ever...=)

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