The 'Christmas tree' formation was one of the hallmarks of the Ancelotti era: 4-3-2-1, an attack laden with offensive players but with only one lone striker. The Rossoneri also lined up in this way on 23 December 2006 (speaking of Christmas), with Seedorf and Kaká supporting Gilardino in Udinese 0-3 AC Milan, which we relive before the next instalment set for Saturday 18 March at 20:45 CET.
SETTING THE SCENE
We are now on the 18th matchday of the 2006/07 Serie A season, the final shot of the year. Almost halfway through one of the most successful seasons in our history - in May the Champions League in Athens, in August the European Super Cup in Munich and in December the FIFA Club World Cup in Yokohama -, the Rossoneri were going through a very complicated and delicate period in the league. After a moderate start, many draws plus successive setbacks in the derby, in Bergamo and against Roma. The 3-0 home win against Catania the weekend before, however, restored morale and pushed the team to a bold performance.
The opening half-hour didn't bode well for the afternoon, but suddenly a great ball from Pirlo to Kaká led to a penalty: Ricky himself took the spot kick and from the penalty spot left De Sanctis no chance, beating him with a low right-footed shot to the far post. Was that enough? Not at all, because the momentum allowed the Diavolo to strike again in the 35th minute at the end of a great team move: Brocchi to Seedorf, on to Jankulovski, the Czech's cross flew into Zapata, the ball remained there and Gilardino was the quickest to intervene and volley it into the net.
OLIVEIRA ALSO ON THE SCORESHEET
In the second half AC Milan handled the game without difficulty, the defence withstood the impact of modest pressure from the Bianconeri and the substitutions increased the deficit: Gourcuff came close but Ricardo Oliveira's was the best effort. The Brazilian, who hadn't scored since September and had been out of the spotlight for some months, received Brocchi's assist and powerfully fired the ball between the keeper's legs. Three goals and the match was all wrapped up. In the 85th minute, Luca Antonelli also made his debut. In 2007 the Rossoneri played a very good second half (not only) of the league season, finishing in fourth place.
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