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Monday, April 26, 2004 

Udinese 0-0 AC Milan

Milan did not manage to beat Udinese, with the match at the Friuli stadium ending in a goalless draw. Despite maintaining a clear lead at the top of the table, the Rossoneri see title-challengers and next opposition Roma reduce their gap to six points, following to their 3-0 victory at Empoli. On the other hand, Udinese, who have been the only team who have defeated Carlo Ancelotti's men this season, confirmed their good qualities and the ability to make things difficult for the opponents thanks to a concrete and stubborn performance.

Still deprived of injured Pippo Inzaghi, Kahka Kaladze and Pippo Pancaro, Ancelotti fielded Marcos Cafu and Billy Costacurta, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Saturday, to complete a four-man defence along with half-backs Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta. Massimo Ambrosini had what was a rare start this season, and joined Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo in midfield. Clarence Seedorf played behind attacking duo Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka.
Luciano Spalletti responded with an offensive team as well, trusting Pizarro as main creator of the build-up. On the flanks room for Jankulovski and Alberto, with Vincenzo Iaquinta and Martin Jorgensen to support lone striker Dino Fava.

The game got off to a bright start as on three minutes, Iaquinta climbed at the back post to head a Jorgensen cross goalward but the ball dropped down for Nelson Dida to gather. Milan went down the other end and Costacurta floated a cross from the right for Kaka to volley into the path of Shevchenko but from just inside the area the striker mishit his shot and the danger was cleared.
The Rossoneri were soon going forward again and this time it was Gattuso who led the charge with a great run to the edge of the home area before being fouled. Pirlo then saw his low curling free-kick just miss the post. Udinese were finding it difficult to get within shooting range of Dida's goal and a mix-up between Fava and Iaquinta summed up their confusion in the first 20 minutes.
The game seemed to come to life each time Kaka touched the ball. On 24 minutes the young Brazilian drifted away from two markers in the area but was forced wide by goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis and his low shot went into the side-netting. Dida was called into action on 33 minutes when he easily gathered a rising shot 25-metre shot from Alberto. There was a moment of danger for the visitors just before the break, when Udinese were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, but Dida got down to save a low and powerful Jankulovski dead-ball effort.

Ancelotti made no changes at half time but Milan continued to pressure the Udinese goal in the early stage. On 47 minutes, Seedorf chipped the ball to the right side of the area for Sheva who volleyed well over the bar. A minute later, Iaquinta sent a free-kick well wide from the edge of the penalty area after Fava had been fouled by Maldini. Kaka was once again a source of danger for the home defenders as he skipped past a number of tackles only to see his floated cross cleared for a corner. Bertotto then went into the book for a body-check as the 'Golden Boy' broke from midfield.
It was again Kaka who had the crowd on their feet on 59 minutes as he flicked the ball away from two markers on the halfway then leaving the defence in his wake before evading a tackle and sending a low shot from the edge of the area just past the post. The hosts were being forced further back into their own half and on 63 minutes Shevchenko managed to turn a ball back to the edge of the area for Ambrosini to chip the ball to Kaka but his cross-shot just floated away from Seedorf. Moments later Kaka just failed to control a pass inside the area and Udinese managed to scramble the ball away for a corner.
Pirlo chipped a precise ball over the defence but from a tight angle Cafu could only fire into the side-netting. On 69 minutes, Ancelotti reverted to a two-man attack as Jon Dahl Tomasson replaced Seedorf but still could not find a way through the home defence.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Manuel Rui Costa replaced Kaka and the Portugal international was soon in the game with a number of neat passes and two minutes into added time he ghosted into the area but could not keep his powerful shot down. Milan almost grabbed all three points in the final moments as the ball dropped to Tomasson in the area but his his curling left-footed shot was deflected behind for a corner. The big clash with Roma next week will therefore be crucial for the Rossoneri.

UDINESE 0-0 MILAN
UDINESE: De Sanctis; Bertotto, Kroldrup, Felipe; Alberto, Pizarro, Muntari (67' Rossitto), Jankulovski; Iaquinta, Jorgensen (87' Pierini); Fava (74' Castroman). Subs: Renard, Sensini, Asamoah, Jancker. Coach: Spalletti.
MILAN: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Gattuso (90+2' Brocchi), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf (78' Tomasson), Kaka (80' Rui Costa); Shevchenko. Subs: Abbiati, Simic, Serginho, Borriello. Coach: Ancelotti.
REFEREE: De Santis
YELLOW CARDS: 52' Bertotto (U), 71' Jankulovski (U), 77' Cafu (M)
ADDED TIME: 1' f.h.; 5' s.h.

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