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More heat on Allegri after draw

Updated: 2013-11-25 07:52
By Agence France-Presse in Milan ( China Daily)

An angry protest launched by hardline "ultra" fans finally ended outside AC Milan's San Siro stadium on Saturday nearly two hours after a 1-1 draw with Genoa, but only after demands to speak to players had been met.

Milan has endured a disastrous start to a Serie A campaign for the second successive season and had targeted a win against Genoa to end a run of four games without a victory that has left the league giant in the second half of the table.

But despite Genoa being reduced to 10 men just after the half hour when Thomas Manfredini was sent off for a foul on Mario Balotelli in the box, Milan failed to capitalize.

Italy striker Balotelli, who has not scored a league goal in two months, stunned the host when he missed from the penalty spot for only the second time in 23 career attempts.

Despite having the man advantage, Milan went on to spurn a series of chances in a dominant second half to claim an unwelcome share of the points.

Subjected to angry banners in the hardline Curva Sud (south stand) throughout the game, almost the entire San Siro turned against Milan at the final whistle when jeers and insults rained down on Massimiliano Allegri's men.

About 400 fans then gathered outside the stadium to block the exit of Milan's squad bus, in doing so preventing the small party of fans who had traveled to support Genoa from leaving the stadium.

Milan, and the Genoa supporters, were finally allowed to leave shortly after midnight but not before the disgruntled supporters' demands for an audience with key players was met.

Television pictures later showed club icon Kaka, who returned to the side at the start of the season, and veteran goalkeeper Christian Abbiati meeting fans in a bid to calm the situation.

Reports on domestic agency ANSA said during the meeting an ultras "leader" hit out at the "unprofessional" attitude of a number of Milan's side and demanded improvements.

It said Kaka, who scored in the fourth minute for the Rossoneri, and Abbiati - who had failed to stop an eighth-minute penalty strike from Alberto Gilardino - had pledged to pass on the message to the squad.

Milan's fifth draw in 13 games left the seven-time European champion 18 points off leading Roma.

The pressure has increased on Allegri who, after winning the league title in his first season in charge, in 2011, and a runner-up place in 2012, had to drag Milan fighting and kicking to a third-place finish last season.

(China Daily 11/25/2013 page23)