Nocerino powers AC Milan
FOXBOROUGH — AC Milan has played in the Boston area four times since 1970, but the Serie A power had not scored a goal in those exhibitions until Saturday. Milan has brought stronger teams to these matches, but even going at less than full speed and with a rebuilt squad, it was able to dominate Honduran champion CD Olimpia, 3-1, at Gillette Stadium.
The Rossoneri (Red & Blacks) converted their goals in a 19-minute span of the opening half, then treated the rest of the contest as a glorified workout session.
Brazilian Robinho scored the opening goal in the 24th minute and Antonio Nocerino scored twice. Second-half substitute Jose Escalante countered for Olimpia in the 72d minute.
Milan fell to Chelsea in 2006 and Inter in ’09 at Gillette Stadium.
But this version of the team has changed greatly. Only three players from the ’09 contest were with Milan Saturday. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva were recently sold to Paris Saint-Germain and several veterans, such as Alessandro Nesta (Montreal Impact), moved on.
“We have a lot of new players, young players, and we’ll see what happens with the transfer market in the next month,” Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia said. “But Milan is Milan and we have tradition to uphold, and that counts for a lot. There have been a lot of changes but this is a together group, we have a good locker room.”
Milan conserved energy in the 93-degree heat, moving the ball through Kevin Constant and Riccardo Montolivo in midfield. Forwards Robinho, Antonio Cassano, and Stephen El Shaarawy chased down defenders in possession, at least long enough for Milan to take control. And outside backs Luca Antonini and Ignazio Abate powered forward into the offense, with center backs Francesco Acerbi, wearing Nesta’s former No. 13, and Daniele Bonera keeping the pressure off Amelia.
Robinho set up the opening goal with a stepover move, then sent a low left-footer just inside the right post in the 24th minute. El Shaarawy started the sequence for the second goal, running through the middle of the field on a counterattack, then laying off to Cassano.
Robinho headed Cassano’s lofted pass to Nocerino for a 2-0 lead in the 37th minute. Cassano then split the defense, Abate drawing out goalkeeper Noel Valladares, and centering for Nocerino in the 43d minute.
Olimpia had played a CONCACAF Champions League game Thursday night, arriving in Boston Friday night. The Leones remained composed, then refreshed with second-half substitutes, including former D.C. United star Luciano Emilio.
“We’re here to prepare for the start of the season, so it was great to get in some training and we thank Olimpia for playing against us,” Nocerino said. “We’re really satisfied with everything. Olimpia is a strong team, a team that can do some good things.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.