My Soccer World

Football: Vucinic Denies Beckham Winning Debut As Pato Shines

Posted on: January 12, 2009

ROME: Brazilian teenager Pato and Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic stole the limelight as David Beckham made his Serie A debut in AC Milan’s 2-2 draw at AS Roma’s Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night.

Pato scored an early second half brace following Vucinic’s first half opener for the hosts but the Montenegran had the last word with a timely equaliser to deny Beckham a winning start to life in Italy.

Milan stay third, nine points off top, while Roma remain in the bottom half of the table.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti sprung a surprise by selecting Beckham in his starting line-up.

The former England captain took a little time to settle before gradually coming into the game and becoming increasingly involved.

His first opportunity to shine could have come on five minutes after Milan won a free-kick in a dangerous position but Ronaldinho pulled rank and crashed his effort into the wall.

Thereafter Beckham showed his full range of abilities, playing one raking ball down the line to Kaka while showing his defensive skills in making a brilliant sprawling block on a John Arne Riise shot.

He also sent many dangerous crosses in from the right.

Roma were battling to get back into Champions League contention after a torrid start to their season and on 22 minutes Vucinic broke the deadlock, latching onto a cross from Riise, turning Marek Jankulovski far too easily on the edge of the six-yard box and slotting home past Christian Abbiati.

In the first minute of the second half Roma captain Daniele De Rossi made space just outside the box but shot well over.

And just two minutes later the hosts were made to pay as Philippe Mexes was pulled out of position and Kaka crossed for Pato to tap home from two yards out.

And Pato scored an equisite second on 53 minutes as Ronaldinho released him down the left before the teenager outstripped Mexes and then chipped Doni.

However, Roma hit back 19 minutes from time as Vucinic bagged his second with a diving header after Matteo Brighi’s shot was deflected into his path.

Beckham, obviously tiring, was substituted two minutes from time.

Earlier in the day Alessandro Del Piero scored a stunning free-kick to hand second-placed Juventus a 1-0 home win over Siena and close the gap at the top behind Inter to four points.

Inter had left the door open with a surprise 1-1 home draw against Cagliari on Saturday night and Del Piero’s sixth goal of the season direct from a free-kick allowed the Old Lady of Turin to take full advantage.

Juve coach Claudio Ranieri admitted his side were lucky to win and paid tribute to his veteran forward.

“Siena didn’t deserve to lose but we are lucky to have our captain Del Piero who once again scored a stunning free-kick,” he said.

“But we still have a lot of work to do, we are not and we will not be the same team as in 2008.”

Despite his advancing years, the 34-year-old Del Piero seems to be getting better and better.

This was his seventh league goal of the season and 12th in all competitions, but most remarkable has been his free-kick record.

Previous successful dead-ball strikes helped Juve beat Real Madrid home and away in the Champions League while another downed Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 in Turin.

And in the league he has been equally deadly, previously hitting the back of the net against Palermo and Chievo.

His 33rd minute strike was the only noteworthy moment in the first half, though, after fellow veteran Pavel Nedved was brought down by his Czech countryman Lukas Jarolim.

After the restart Brazilian forward Amauri should have doubled the lead with a header while Del Piero sent a shot into the side-netting.

Frenchman Abdelkader Gezzal had two late chances for Siena but was denied first by former Siena goalkeeper Alex Manninger and then by a flailing defender’s body.

In other games 10-man Fiorentina missed the chance to go third as they fell 2-1 at home to lowly Lecce, who climbed out of the relegation zone.

Lazio stayed in Champions League contention as Macedonia forward Goran Pandev scored a hat-trick – his first league goals since October – in a thrilling 3-2 win at Reggina.

Results:

Napoli 1 Catania 0

Bologna 1 Chievo 1

Udinese 1 Sampdoria 1

Palermo 3 Atalanta 2

Reggina 2 Lazio 3

Fiorentina 1 Lecce 2

Juventus 1 Siena 0

AS Roma 2 AC Milan 2

– AFP/de

Channel News Asia

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