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Ronaldinho rescues point for Milan

Substitute Ronaldinho popped up seven minutes from time to salvage a point for AC Milan in a 1-1 draw at 10-man Atalanta on Sunday but that might not be enough to save coach Leonardo from the chop.

sports Updated: Oct 04, 2009 22:10 IST
eurosoccer2009

Substitute Ronaldinho popped up seven minutes from time to salvage a point for AC Milan in a 1-1 draw at 10-man Atalanta on Sunday but that might not be enough to save coach Leonardo from the chop.

Milan may have come from behind to earn a draw but their hosts played almost an hour with 10 men and it took the seven-time European champions 45 minutes to break down their lowly opponents with a numerical advantage.

It was also only Milan's fourth goal in seven league matches in which the struggling giants have managed just two wins.

In Europe and at home they have failed to win in their last four matches and the question now more than ever is how much more time will the Milan board give Leonardo if results don't start to improve, quickly and dramatically.

Both sides had the ball in the net early on but Simone Tiribocchi's effort for Atalanta was disallowed for a push on Alessandro Nesta while Milan's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had strayed marginally offside before beating Andrea Consigli.

Chilean Jaime Valdes then popped up at the back post to loop a volley just wide of the far upright as the hosts looked bright early on.

And they deservedly took the lead on 21 minutes after Milan's defence went to sleep as Simone Padoin crossed from the right.

Centre-backs Nesta and Giuseppe Favalli were both drawn to Cristiano Doni at the neat post, leaving Tiribocchi free behind them as Ignazio Abate had failed to cover from right-back.

When Doni missed the ball it fell to Tiribocchi, who had time to pick his spot and beat Marco Storari in the Milan goal.

Huntelaar went close moments later as he cleverly turned Thomas Manfredini in the box but the Atalanta defender didn't give up the ghost and stuck out a foot to flick the ball away from the Dutch forward before he could pull the trigger.

Serbian midfielder Ivan Radovanovic then made the hosts' hopes of holding out for victory look decidedly tougher as he was sent off six minutes before the break for a needless second booking, pulling Pato's shirt when the forward was practically on the halfway line.

Milan were expected to come out firing after the break as Leonardo replaced French midfielder Mathieu Flamini with Brazilian forward Ronaldinho.

The seven-time European champions did fashion an early chance as Manfredini over committed himself in trying to reach an Andrea Pirlo cross leaving Pato free to shoot from 10 yards but Consigli came to the rescue, making a point blank stop.

Atalanta then survived a double scare 17 minutes from time after a slick Milan passing move as Consigli saved well from Ronaldinho before Pato's volleyed follow-up bounced into the ground and over the goalkeeper, only to come back off the bar.

Milan played much of the second half just in front of Atalanta's penalty box and the 10 men finally cracked on 83 minutes when Nesta lifted the ball over the backline and Ronaldinho took it down on his chest and volleyed home in one brilliant movement.

Sampdoria failed to take back top spot from Inter Milan, who beat Udinese 2-1 on Saturday, as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Parma.

It means Juventus can take over at the head of the scudetto standings if they win away to Palermo in the day's late game.