Beckham shines on surprise debut

Roma 2 Milan 2
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The Independent Football

David Beckham played almost the entire game on his Serie A debut with Milan against Roma last night and impressed in an entertaining game that ended in a draw.

The England midfielder, signed on a two-month loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy, crossed the ball effectively on numerous occasions before being substituted two minutes from time.

Mirko Vucinic put Roma ahead in the 22nd minute. However, Milan turned things around early in the second half as Alexandre Pato struck twice in the space of eight minutes. But Vucinic levelled the scores in the 73rd minute to deny Milan their first away win since the end of October.

The draw leaves Milan in third position, nine points behind the league leaders Internazionale.

Beckham had been expected to start on the bench but the Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti caused a surprise by including him in his starting line-up, and his fitness held up.

Milan wasted a good chance early on, with Ronaldinho's free-kick going straight into the wall. The visitors controlled possession but struggled to get past Roma's well-organised defence. Beckham showed his quality in the 17th minute with a perfectly weighted long pass to Kaka, who advanced towards the area but was closed down by the defence.

At the other end, Roma made no mistake as they broke the deadlock. The former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise's perfect cross from the left found Vucinic inside the box and he turned past Paolo Maldini before firing home.

On the half-hour mark, Philippe Mexes did well to get in front of Pato inside the area, with the Brazilian striker ready to head home Marek Jankulovski's whipped cross from the left. Shortly afterwards, Beckham's indirect free-kick towards the area was cleared by the Roma defence as Milan continued to surge forward. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid player continued to swing in crosses from the right but Roma gave nothing away.

Vucinic should have made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time but his right-footed shoot from outside the area went just wide.

It was clear that Milan would have to produce something more refined in the second half, and they did just that. The Rossoneri hit back shortly after the restart, with Kaka's pass from the left towards the far post finding an unmarked Pato, who scored with ease.

It was Pato who put Milan in front after a devastating run down the left five minutes later. He got past two markers before surging inside the area and chipping the ball over Roma goalkeeper Alexander Doni.

Roma continued to struggle and Juan made a crucial clearance inside the area with Kaka ready to strike Milan's third. Ronaldinho then fired over the bar as the visitors looked to kill the game off.

In the 65th minute, Beckham's curled effort towards the far post forced Doni to make a save.

But Roma equalised with Vucinic's flying header from Matteo Brighi's cross inside the area surprising Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal.

With 10 minutes remaining, Doni palmed away Kaka's close-range effort. Beckham was substituted in the closing stages as Roma held on for a point.

Elsewhere in Italy, Juventus, in second place in the table, moved to within four points of Internazionale thanks to a 1-0 win over Siena. A trademark free-kick from Alessandro Del Piero in the 34th minute was enough to earn the Bianconeri all three points and allowed them to take full advantage of Inter's slip-up – a 1-1 draw with Cagliari on Saturday.