MILAN - Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato scored twice after great work from Ronaldinho to give AC Milan a battling 2-1 win at Siena in their Serie A opener on Saturday. The visitors, patchy in pre-season under new rookie coach Leonardo, went ahead on 29 minutes when Pato coolly slotted home after compatriot Ronaldinho's clever pass. Abdelkader Ghezzal equalised for the hosts five minutes later when Milan's stand-in goalkeeper Marco Storari could only parry a shot into his path. However, Milan quickly regained the initiative in the second half when another delightful Ronaldinho ball allowed Mathieu Flamini to give Pato an easy tap-in. Ronaldinho, disappointing in his first season at the San Siro last term when Milan limped in third, now shoulders the creative burden after the sale of Kaka to Real Madrid and he showed real signs of rediscovering his best form. The playmaker had an overhead kick tipped over and combined again with Pato only for the offside flag to prevent a goal. "Ronaldinho is really great. He is number one, we are really happy with the way he has come back," Pato told Sky television. LOOKED ASSURED The display eased some early pressure on fellow Brazilian Leonardo, who inherited an ageing side from new Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and has been handed only a few recruits with frugal Milan looking to balance the books. New striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar was suspended but Alessandro Nesta came through unscathed after a year of injuries and fellow centre half Thiago Silva looked assured on his league debut ahead of next weekend's meeting with champions Inter Milan. Fiorentina's Adrian Mutu earlier shrugged off worries about his preparedness by coming off the bench to salvage a 1-1 draw at Bologna, who narrowly avoided the drop last term. The Romanian striker is still coming to terms with a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) verdict ordering him to pay former club Chelsea $24.5 million in damages after a positive test for cocaine while at the English side five years ago. Mutu started as a substitute with coach Cesare Prandelli keen to limit the pressure on him but he rifled home the equaliser from just inside the area after 64 minutes. Former Fiorentina forward Pablo Osvaldo had put the hosts in front midway through the first half when he headed in a corner. Fiorentina, who host Sporting in their Champions League playoff second leg on Wednesday with the score at 2-2, had chances to win but striker Alberto Gilardino was twice denied. Inter host promoted Bari in Sunday's main programme.
22 August 2009
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