Roma 2, Milan 3: The Return of the Champions

This fixture has long been a low-scoring one. In fact I read somewhere that no more than 2 goals had been scored by both teams in this fixture since 1998. But all of that went out the window with 5 goals scored today, in what is typically a very frustrating match. And for the first time in a while, Milan took 3 points in Rome. Certainly in the Stadio Olimpico tonight, they involuntarily welcomed the return of the champions.

The last time we paid a visit to Rome, it was a very frustrating match that ended up in a 0-0 draw, but a draw that was enough for us to clinch the title and celebrate in front of some not so enthusiastic Roma fans. But today , there would be goals scored and no draw at all.

The match started out in the way our matches typically go - like an epic battle where thousands of soldiers line up across from each other, everyone runs, and whomever has the most men left standing at the end is the victor. But 17 minutes in, on Milan’s first attempt on goal, Ibra scored a brilliant header from a sweet cross by Aquilani. 0-1 Milan.

Then in the 28th, Burdisso also scored a header. 1-1. But while Roma fans were still lighting off explosives in the stadium and singing to celebrate the equalizer, our rock of a defender, Nesta, also scored a header in the 30th. 1-2 Milan.

Just one minute later, van Bommel, who had been doing his fair share of little fouls, finally forced the ref to pull out a yellow for him. There were saves and shots and cheeky fouls along the way. Until the 37th, when Borini got injuried in the box and had to be subbed off for Krkic in the 39th. In the 41st, Silva had a typical great save vs. Osvaldo. And to wrap up the half, Pjanic sent one over the crossbar.

The second half was a bit more eventful. For example, there were 4 yellows, a red, and a sending off of our coach. Roma’s Gago and Pjanic got yellows in the 51st and 59th respectively, the latter for a handball. While there were some questions about handballs earlier vs. Roma, none were called. This one was a great one to call, as he blatantly used his arm to control the ball. The cause of Nocerino’s yellow in the 51st was perhaps not on camera, as I missed it and so did other sources, it’s a mystery card, I guess. Whereas Aquilani’s yellow was for an obvious foul.

Less obvious is why Kevin Prince Boateng received a red as he was being subbed off. Cameras show he said something to the linesman, but he wasn’t even using his angry face, so I will be anxious to hear what he said. So now we are missing him for at least Catania, as this is already his 2nd red this season. Shame.

The bigger shame was Allegri being sent off in the 90th. He was complaining, as all coaches tend to do, about an out of bounds call. (I think it is part of a coaches’ training to do this.) Unless he used some questionable language, it didn’t seem anything out of the normal. And replays show, he was right, too, it hadn’t gone out. In fact, he was in a better spot than the linesman to make that call, but that’s beside the point. He shouldn’t disrespect the ref. (Although I’m wondering if it was that ref’s time of the month with some of the calls he made in the second half!!) We will see if he receives any fines or further punishment, the FIGC doesn’t look too kindly on these sorts of things.

The second half saw us miss a lot of seemingly great chances, the first being Ibra in the 48th who made a run into the box virtually alone, and ended up empty handed. Then Cassano missed a number of opportunities around 20 minutes before the end where it looked like he held the ball too long. the most painful missed chance, though, came in the 86th with a great run up and passing from several players, ending up on Nocerino’s feet, who had some open net and shot it just wide. The Italian commentators called it an “erroraccio,” or “ugly error.”

Substitutions for Roma were Lamela (“apple” in Italian) on for Gago in the 63rd, and Heinze on for Juan in the 71st. Milan brought on Emanuelson in the 66th for Boateng, then Cassano on for Robinhoin the 74th, and finally Ambrosini on for Nocerino in the 88th. 

But I have only mentioned 3 goals so far, and there were 5, so let’s see… first came Ibra’s second header of the match in the 78th minute, with another great assist from Aquilani, the former Roma player. 1-3 Milan. And after many foiled attempts, in the 88th, Lamela took a shot that was saved, but Bojan took advantage of the rebound and scored, the only goal not scored with one’s head in this match, 2-3 Milan.

For the first time since maybe Barcelona, Milan had less than 50% possession, with only 42% tonight. But we only took 7 shots, with 3 of them on goal, 3 goals. That accuracy is pretty amazing, really. In contrast, Roma, with the 58% possession, had 21 shots, with 8 on goal. Which should tell you who the man of the match was today: Abbiati. He had to work as hard as a single mom with 5 kids and 3 jobs today, with some spectacular saves, too. Nesta also had a particular notable save in the 55th to add to his earlier goal. But the goals conceded were lacking in certain levels of defense that we have been weak on all season, so we still have room for improvement.

Of course, the match was not perfect, yet once again we won, even if we failed to keep a clean sheet again. But this return to winning ways, no matter if it’s pretty or not, actually did put us at the top of the table, even if it’s only temporary. So we returned to Rome, where we were crowned champions last season, we beat Roma to get that wolf off of our back, and we are back at or near the top of the table. I would say that people should be talking about the return of the champions.

This post inspired by the music of Elaine’s Halloween Mix, including Ministry, Oingo Boingo, The Bolshoi, The Cure, Bauhaus and Interpol
Roma 2, Milan 3: The Return of the Champions Roma 2, Milan 3: The Return of the Champions Reviewed by Elaine on 12:15 PM Rating: 5
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