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Winning start for Seedorf

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

MILAN - AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf claimed the Serie A giants have rediscovered the joy of playing football despite requiring a late Mario Balotelli spot-kick to secure a precious 1-0 win over Verona yesterday.

Seedorf has been heralded as Milan's potential saviour since former coach Massimiliano Allegri was sacked after a 4-3 defeat to Sassuolo last week left the Rossoneri 30 points behind leaders Juventus.

For his first game at the helm of the side for whom he made 300 appearances in 10 golden years, Seedorf sent out an ultra-offensive 4-2-3-1 formation with Robinho, Kaka and Japan's Keisuke Honda playing behind Balotelli.

But despite creating a host of chances against Andrea Mandorlini's high-flying visitors, Milan had to rely on Balotelli's 82nd-minute penalty to secure what was only their sixth win in 20 games.

"We dedicate this win to the new coach," Balotelli told Sky Sport Italia.

"Because the first game in charge of a team is always difficult.

"The coach asked us to play as four strikers and to press from the start. It worked well... we had a lot of possession and when you see more of the ball it's a lot better."

Seedorf was pleased with the Rossoneri's performance on what was effectively the first real day of his fledgling coaching career.

"Milan have rediscovered the joy of playing football," said the 37-year-old Dutchman, who only gave up his playing career with Brazilian side Botafogo last week.

Milan's aim over the remaining 18 league games is to clinch a top three place in the Champions League, although with Juventus, Roma and Napoli flying high.

Juventus and Roma were both on form in their respective games on Sunday, the champions edging an impressive Sampdoria 4-2 and Roma beating struggling Livorno 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium.

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