Italian LeagueMonday, January 20, 2014
Balotelli penalty gives Seedorf winning start
MILAN — New coach Clarence Seedorf thanked AC Milan for having the courage to appoint him after watching his side beat Hellas Verona 1-0 with a late Mario Balotelli penalty on his debut yesterday.
“The focus has been to rediscover the joy of playing, to do training sessions with the ball,” the Dutchman, who had no previous coaching experience and only took charge of his first practice on Thursday, told reporters. “The club has had courage to appoint me just as they did with Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello,” he added. “I’m happy for the team as there is a lot of work to do and winning makes it easier.”
Despite the win, it was another unconvincing performance from Milan which struggled to create chances and always looked vulnerable in defence.
Balotelli side-footed home in the 82nd minute after Verona defender Alejandro González had needlessly fouled Kaká, tripping the Brazilian with a clumsy tackle even though the ball was already heading out of play.
Milan remained 11th with 25 points after only its sixth league win in 20 attempts this season.
Seedorf, who left Milan 18 months ago after spending ten years of his playing career there, was playing for Brazilian side Botafogo until Tuesday, when he received the invitation to take charge of Milan.
The 37-year-old immediately cut short his playing career to accept the challenge and replace Massimiliano Allegri, who was fired last Monday after three-and-a-half years in charge.
“Our rapport over 10 years helped the club understand a lot about me, as it was a long and intense time together on and off the field,” said Seedorf. “The club hierarchy got an idea of who I am, what I’m like and my competence in the world of soccer.”
Also, Alessandro Matri scored twice on his Fiorentina debut to help his new team win 3-0 at bottom club Catania. The striker had only scored once in six months for AC Milan but now has more goals for Fiorentina after a brilliant first half.