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Lugano lose first round against Milan

Sparring partners: the referee separates Lugano's Maneluk (left) from Milan's Helfer Keystone

Lugano have begun its campaign for hockey's Continental Cup with a 4-2 loss against Milan on Friday.

In the first of three matches of their semifinal tournament, the Bianconeri failed to put their mark on the game despite their superiority on paper.

In Asiago, in front of 1,000 spectators, Lugano got off to a good start, when Rötheli opened the score in the eighth minute from a Jeannin pass. But six minutes later, Milan evened things up in power play mode thanks to their Canadian Beattie, a player who has already spent time with Swiss teams Servette Geneva and Thurgau.

Shortly after the first break, the same player punished Lugano’s passive disposition to score again. One minute later, his teammate Molteni made it 3-1 for the Italian side.

Lugano came back to life shortly after the match’s halfway point, when Maneluk scored a power play goal. But after the second break, Milan inflicted a final blow to the Bianconeri’s chances after just one minute’s play, when Lefebvre beat goalkeeper Huet for the fourth time.

Lugano trainer Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said after the game his team felt the absence of forward Christian Dubé. “He could have given us the impulsion we needed,” said Bilyaletdinov.

The Ticino coach refused to blame his team’s loss on missing players though. “Milan has got some very good players and my team didn’t play the way I want them to,” he said.

Besides Dubé, Lugano was missing two other forwards in Italy, Fair and Lindberg, as well as Patrick Sutter. The defenceman is his team’s third best scorer so far this season.

Lugano has to win the last two matches against Milan to reach the finals in Zurich next January. Swiss teams have won the last three editions of the Cup, Ambri twice and Zurich once.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR