Italy: AC Milan falls at home again
MILAN (AP) -- Budget-thinned AC Milan was beaten 1-0 by regional rival Atalanta on Saturday, a second consecutive home defeat in the Serie A that's sure to increase talk of unrest within Silvio Berlusconi's club as the Champions League approaches.
Atalanta midfielder Luca Cigarini scored with a long shot from the top of the area in the 64th minute after teammate German Denis hit the post midway through the first half.
With both Brazil forwards Alexandre Pato and Robinho out injured, Milan struggled to finish and was again whistled off the pitch at the San Siro.
"Losing the first two home games of the season is not nice, but we've got to keep working,'' Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "We're playing well for stretches but we need better fitness.
"At least having the Champions League right away gives us a chance to bounce back,'' Allegri added, looking ahead to Tuesday's opener with Belgian side Anderlecht.
Milan also lost 1-0 to Sampdoria in its home opener, but bounced back with a 3-1 win at Bologna courtesy of a Giampaolo Pazzini hat trick. However, Pazzini had trouble getting to the ball this time and Milan again sorely lacked Thiago Silva at the center of its defense.
Teenage striker Stephen El Shaarawy also had a difficult night, and midfielder Nigel de Jong failed to make an impact in his first start since transferring from Manchester City.
Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both bolted for Paris Saint-Germain in the offseason as Milan offloaded an entire squad worth of key players. Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and Alessandro Nesta also left.
"Things have changed but this squad has quality and slowly but surely we'll show it,'' said Allegri, who denied a rift with club vice president Adriano Galliani.
Overall in the transfer market, Milan took in ?63 million ($81 million) and spent just ?17.8 million ($23 million).
Milan's season ticket sales ended Friday at 23,618 - the lowest figure since Berlusconi took over the club in 1986.
"Milan is adapting to the times,'' Galliani said before the match. "We've spent a lot of money over the years and now we've got to try and do well with a balanced budget. Sooner or later the other European squads will have to fall into line, too.''
Milan is three points behind the three co-leaders, which each play on Sunday. Defending champion Juventus visits Genoa, Napoli hosts Parma and Lazio plays Chievo Verona.
Atalanta, which began the season with a two-point penalty from a betting scandal, moved into positive territory with two points.
Earlier, Cagliari scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at Palermo in a matchup of two island-based teams.
Sardinia-based Cagliari has two points through three rounds while Sicily-based Palermo earned its first point after getting shut out in its opening two matches.
Uruguayan midfielder Egidio Arevalo Rios put Palermo ahead with a shot from the edge of the area in the 40th and Marco Sau replied in the 88th with a close-range header from a rebound in his Serie A debut.
Arevalo Rios played for Tijuana in Mexico last season, while the Sardinian-born Sau scored 21 goals with Juve Stabia in Serie B last season. In 2010-11, Sau scored 20 goals for Foggia in the third division.
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