Lecce 3, Milan 4: Prince Charming

Okay, so imagine there was this damsel in distress. She woke up at 3:30 am to see her beloved team play, only something went dreadfully wrong and her team were down 3-0 at the half to 19th place Lecce. Never did she need a hero like she did on this day. Luckily for her, there was someone who could rescue her from her misery. With a 15 minute hat trick, she was rescued by Prince Charming, aka Kevin Prince Boateng. And his trusty knight Sir Yepes.

The match started off very somberly, as a minute of silence was held to honor the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli, Italian Grand Prix motorcycle road racer, who died today in a terrible crash. Milan were wearing black armbands to honor him as well. No one ever wants to hear something like that. My heart goes out to his family and friends and fellow racers.

Maybe the armbands weighed heavily on our Milan heroes. Or maybe playing at lunchtime threw them off, I can’t say. But just 3 minutes in, we seemed to be suckerpunched by a goal from Giacomazzi. A suckerpunch that kept us reeling for the entire first half. 1-0 Lecce.

Sure, Abbiati had a fantastic save in the 11th, when there was an apparent handball that went unnoticed by the ref on the play. Robinho and Zlatan were getting off shots here and there, but proved no match for the Lecce defense. But it would be in the 29th minute when my now least favorite Lecce player, Corvia, was “taken down” by Abbiati in the box. While facing away from goal (no clear shot on goal.) And, as the replays show, was already falling before Abbiati’s hand brushed his knee.

Just like old times.
Nevertheless, the referee on the day, Peruzzo, called a penalty for Lecce, but luckily no card for Abbiati. Massimo Oddo stepped up and took the penalty, 2-0 Lecce. Remember when we had a penalty kicker called Massimo Oddo? But it couldn’t be the same Oddo, because I can’t imagine our Oddo celebrating against his beloved Milan, and this Oddo did.

As if I wasn’t already questioning my choice to be up at this hour, things went from horrifying to even worse than horrifying. In the 37th minute, Grossmüller scored a goal for Lecce, 3-0. Funny thing is, the replay shows him at least 2 yards offside. And with the way Milan played, it figured we would also be on the wrong end of some questionable ref calls. Some say that ref calls all even out in the end, but sometimes you just have to take things into your own hands if you want the 3 points. You know, play so well, not even the ref can stop you from winning.

I believe that was the specific game plan of Allegri and also most certainly Kevin Prince Boateng. Allegri was widely criticized for leaving Boateng and Aquilani on the bench, even though their fitness had been in question the past few days, and I’m sure he did not want to risk them if possible. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and when you are down 3-0 at the half, I would say that is desperate.

Boateng came onto the pitch and made his intentions immediately clear. Just 20 seconds into the second half, he fired a shot that forced Benassi to make the save of the day, tipping it just over the crossbar, or it should have been a goal. But just in case that was not clear enough, Boateng scored a beauty in the 49th, on a cross from Aquilani. Talk about instant impact from your subs! 3-1 Lecce

The Ghanaian expression for "In your face, haters!"

Needing to make up for lost time, his second goal came in the 55th on an assist by Cassano. 3-2 Lecce. In a strange turn of events, Lecce were looking a little suckerpunched. And they played like it, too, with my least favorite Lecce player Corvia with a nasty foul on Yepes in the 57th that went uncautioned. In the 58th, the ref did break out a yellow card, which appeared to be given to Corvia as he was timewasting, but my sources now show it was given to Esposito?? Another nasty Corvia foul on Yepes came in the 61st, this time definitely being shown a yellow. But strangely, the ref did not send him off, even though by all appearances (and behavior) that should have been his second yellow in 5 minutes. Curious.

That card confusion did not distract my Prince Charming from his mission, though. In the 63rd, he scored the third goal on the night (as many as he had all last season, I think!) with an assist by Abate. Damn, I love that man right now. Tied on 3.

There were shots and crosses galore, Ibra, Cassano, and Nocerino all trying to get on the scoreboard to break the tie. But it was in the 85th that Cassano chipped it beautifully straight across the goal to an on-running Yepes, who headed it in as he has oft been prone to do in his career. Yepes for the win. Milan 4, Lecce 3.

Good Sir Yepes of Milan, Knight of the Scudetto

Beyond that, who really cares what else happened. Benassi, the Lecce keeper, was shown a yellow car, I’m not sure if even he knows why. Lecce rolled out their subs with little impact, although Di Francesco was wise to pull Corvia off before the ref gave him a third yellow or even a straight red. Besides, he was about 2 minutes away from killing Yepes, I think. El Shaarawy came on for Cassano in the 89th so the latter could be appropriately whistled and jeered, since Cassano is from fellow southern rivals Bari.

What I did find interesting is that Strasser probably outplayed the entire Milan squad in the first half. I don’t want to get into how poorly Milan played in the first half because I would like to believe that I was still asleep and it was all just a nightmare. Although I would like to say, it showed that we have a ways to go before we are a squad that is interchangeable, like last year. Missing a couple of key players nearly cost us another 3 points in the most humiliating of ways.

As for the referee, veteran Tagliavento was the 4th official on the night, and witnessing the horror show that Peruzzo displayed, I like to think he will be able to mentor the latter, or at least tell him what he did wrong, I don’t care. We are lucky that we had a Prince Charming to save us from the ref calls on this night.

Milan had 19 shots, with only 6 on goal, but we made 4 of those, so it’s hard to complain. And at least we were shooting, even in the first half. We also made up the possession, which felt very lopsided in Lecce’s favor at the half, finishing on 65%% possession, since we dominated the second half. Way to pull it off, boys. Especially you, my Prince Charming. I loved you before, but now I think I may be in love with you. Certainly, thanks for saving this damsel in distress and making my early morning worthwhile. And a kiss to you, too, Sir Yepes for putting the final dagger through Lecce’s heart. My heroes.

RIP Marco Simoncelli • Jan. 20, 1987-Oct. 23, 2011

This post dedicated to my former co-blogger Jovan, who had no qualms about reminding me he could watch the match at a respectable 12:30pm compared to my 3:30 am.

Lecce 3, Milan 4: Prince Charming Lecce 3, Milan 4: Prince Charming Reviewed by Elaine on 6:44 AM Rating: 5
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