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Napoli 3, Milan 1: Nightmares

If you didn’t read my preview, you probably didn’t realize how severe the injury crisis was for us going to the San Paolo. With one-third of our players out with injury, our team was already frighteningly thin going into the match. And with Lavezzi’s miraculous recovery, he was able to help Cavani give us nightmares in the scoring department, too.

A face nightmares are made of
This was a match better viewed from under the covers, like when you were a kid and were scared of the dark. The last minute inclusion of Bonera at left back was like when there was a lot of howling wind outside, too. So hold onto your teddy bear and let’s see if we can piece this thing together, much like that patchworked field our boys played in tonight.

Things started out as you would expect. In the 8th minute, Lavezzi attempted a shot, but Silva stopped it point blank. Nice. Then in the 11th minute, Seedorf passed it forward to Cassano who had a great cross into the box, where Aquilani scored a brilliant diving header. 1-0 Milan. Just like when mommy used to tuck you in after some hot chocolate.

Thumbsucking is common with nightmares.

However, the Napoli storm was about to begin, because in the 13th minute, off of a Lavezzi free kick, Cavani scored, too. 1-1. But that was just the beginning of the nightmares. After a few pushes and shoves from the start, in the 21st, Inler had a studs up challenge on Cassano’s ankle, no card. Then Nocerino did get a yellow card for a foul on Lavezzi. Then Maggio offered Pato a few extra flicks of his boots on a challenge, while Pato answered by pushing him firmly to the ground.

In the 36th, Cavani scored again, on a Gargano assist. 2-1 Napoli. Aquilani had a couple of shots before the half, but it was Maggio mixing it up again - this time with Bonera - that caused me to shudder. Not exactly the stuff dreams are made of.

The half started with a few shots back and forth, but in the 51st, Lavezzi once again connected with Cavani, who scored his 3rd goal of the day. 3-1 Napoli. And a hat trick for the Freddy Krueger of Milan’s nightmares. He was virtually unstoppable.

I often overlook the contributions of players I don’t like, so for all of you Bonera fans out there, let it be known that in the 53rd minute, Bonera made a nice defensive stop. There, I said it. Now on to one of my favorite players, who sometimes gets a little ribbing for not playing offensively, in the 54th, he dribbled his way up and into the area creating some almost chances. But he was playing offensively. I’m just saying.

Nocerino: "Talk to the hand."

Tagliavento, the referee on the evening, had not seemed to want to give any cards out, but wearing that horrid ref uniform seemed to have finally taken its toll, and he started handing them out liberally. First, one to Pato in the 54th, for simulation. Then to both Nesta and Aronica in the 62nd. It seems Aronica came in with a nasty challenge on Nesta, and Nesta kind of lost it there for a few minutes, maybe having grabbed Aronica by the throat, etc. So a 2 for 1 foul, that being 2 yellow cards, of course.

Then came the substitution parade. This may or may not have played out like the pink elephants on parade. It started with Hamsik off for Dzemali in the 64th. Then Bonera off for Antonini and van Bommel off for Emanuelson in the 65th.

Back to violence, in the 68th, Nocerino provided a decent challenge on Cavani that went unpunished, but in the 73rd, Gargano was cautioned for a foul on Aquilani, and Cavani earned himself a yellow for mouthing off to the ref about it. Antonini rounded out the yellow card parade with a stupid foul on Cavani in the 77th. I am not sure if Tagliavento was giving out make up cards or what, but he wasn’t as consistent with the cards as I like my refs to be, and I usually like him.

Who could blame him, though? It’s not like Napoli played great football, they just maximized their chances. And Milan, well we were a disaster. With some definite moments of brilliance, and a lot of effort - the kind of effort that is like trying to run up an escalator, we were not cohesive. We may have managed 62% possession, but we didn’t seem to remember what to do with the ball when we had it. We were disjointed, slow, and undisciplined. We missed terribly, I think the people in the cheap seats have a collection of balls now. A draw or a win would not have been fair for us.

Ummm, Pato? That's not the kind of physical we were looking for.

But I digress from the nightmare. Antonini took a shot in the 74th. Yes, you read that right. He was up close to the goal, he had the ball, and he took a shot. Only it had no power on it. An Antonini goal would have really been something to celebrate, don’t you think? Anyway, in the 77th, Aquilani gave way to the royal entrance of the Little Pharoah for his Milan debut. Oh, and Zuniga was subbed off for Dossena in the 78th, then Lavezzi off for Pandev in the 82nd.

So this El Shaarawy fellow that everyone has wanted to see. He seemed a little dazed at first, like when a boy comes to play with the men. Which is exactly what this was ,him being 18 and all. But then he had a couple of nice touches and we could see that maybe there is something there. He will be one to watch down the road, but don’t expect him to explode off of the bench.

Speaking of things exploding, I think my head is going to explode every time I think of this nightmare of a match. It was a bad day for the champions, and a decent day for Napoli. In the end, though, what will be remembered is that we went to the San Paolo and handed over 3 points to Cavani and company. Let’s hope we wake up before we drop any more points, or this nightmare will turn into a recurring one. Between those 4 yellow cards and all of our injuries, we could be in trouble. Oh, and  speaking of injuries, get well soon, everyone. We missed you tonight.



This post inspired by Elaine’s Nightmare mix, including Ministry, Bauhaus, Oingo Boingo, The Cure, Interpol, Madness, Joy Division, The Bolshoi, Souixsie and the Banshees, etc.