On a questionable pitch ruled playable by Referee Baboucarr Jallow, AC Milan found a scoring touch that had been woefully lacking in its previous North American summertime matches. After surviving a Fernando Arce blast off the crossbar in the second minute of play, Milan's eleven outscored 10-1 in the recently concluded Guinness International Champions Cup found their footing.
Like Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, the Italian soccer power displayed the patience, technical skills and soccer brilliance fans have been waiting to see. In the 20th minute, Mbaye Niang burst through two defenders tapping home a perfectly timed service from Keisuke Honda.
Playing with renewed energy and intensity, ACM forced Chivas into three bookings in a five minute span moving Mario Balotelli's free kicks progressively closer to the Guadalajara goal. On his third try (38th minute), this time from 25 yards out Balotelli curled a shot inside the near post past a diving Antonio Rodriguez. Giampaolo Pazzini finished AC Milan's scoring outburst burying a service from midfielder Michael Essien for a 3-0 lead in the 71st minute.
"I was very pleased with all of our players," said head coach Filippo Inzaghi through a translator. "I was particularly pleased with our attacking players but especially their spirit. I was very pleased with our overall style of attacking football."
AC Milan keepers Christian Abbiati and Michael Agazzi and a much maligned defense limited Chivas to just two shot for the duration of the match.
Both teams now return to the pristine playing fields of Europe and Mexico thankful to have survived NRG without injury.
"I agree with you that it was important that no one was hurt in the matchup, and I also believe that it was a situation where neither team wanted to play on the field," continued Inzaghi. "But the referee had decided the field was playable. Both teams were professional and wanted to act professionally. If the referee said we could play, we play."
The match was played before a crowd of 14,871, the smallest attendance for an international match at NRG Stadium.