MILAN - Leonardo left as AC Milan boss
last May after becoming fed up with owner Silvio Berlusconi
suggesting tactics, but it was the Inter Milan coach's naive
formation which helped his former side prevail on Saturday.
Milan won the derby 3-0 thanks to a goal after 44 seconds
and a 62nd minute header from Alexandre Pato and Antonio
Cassano's late penalty, meaning they stretched their lead at the
top over Inter to five points with seven games left.
Inter's six-year stranglehold on the Serie A title is on the
verge of ending and for all of Leonardo's boundless enthusiasm,
the fact he has only been a manager for under two seasons was
abundantly apparent at a rocking San Siro.
"I don't believe we have surrendered but five points are
five points, it's a lot," the Brazilian told Sky television.
"The game swung on the goal in the first minute which hit us
psychologically. If we had managed to equalise before the break
it would have been a different game."
Jose Mourinho, who led Inter to an unprecedented Italian
treble last season before quitting for Real Madrid, would not
have allowed his side to have been overrun in midfield and on
the counter-attack like Leonardo's outfit on Saturday.
Time and again Inter centre backs Cristian Chivu and Andrea
Ranocchia were left exposed by a lack of midfield cover and the
full-backs charging forward in an adventurous 4-3-2-1 formation.
Usual left-back Chivu, surprisingly preferred at centre-half
to Ivan Cordoba with Lucio suspended, struggled having only just
passed a fitness test to play and his 54th minute dismissal for
a professional foul on Pato summed up his evening.
Inter owner Massimo Moratti risked the wrath of his fans by
recruiting former arch-enemy Leonardo to replace flop Rafa
Benitez in December but the Brazilian's wit and intelligence in
his season with Milan, who he led to third place, had impressed
many observers even if tactics were never his strong point.
The derby was crying out for in-form Samuel Eto'o to
terrorise Milan's ageing defence but instead the Cameroon
striker was stranded on the left wing and, apart from one
glaring miss which could have made it 1-1, barely had a kick.
Milan, without the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic, had failed
to win their last two league games but had a new spring in their
step which may be thanks to the international break.
"Pato did well, it was one of his best games if not the
best. The team showed calmness and played good football, the win
was more than deserved," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said
after picking a more cautious lineup than Leonardo.
"It's too early to say it was the scudetto-clinching match."
A first league title since 2004 now beckons, however, and
Leonardo will have played a part in the triumph, as much for his
errors in the derby as Inter manager as for his contribution to
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