There is a cruel game kids play around here where they take the ball away from the little kid and call him the “Monkey in the Middle,” then play keep away with the ball. Tonight’s match against Chievo was reminiscent of that game for me. It was hard not to feel bad for Chievo. Whereas I was concerned before the match about their giant-killing ways, the Flying Donkeys were completely outclassed by Milan from start to finish.
The mid-table Flying Donkeys were under attack immediately, with Ibra sending a warning shot that hit the top of the crossbar just 45 seconds in. Then Aquilani nearly reached a pass in the 4th minute to shoot. But it was the captain for the day, Thiago Silva, who drew first blood in the 8th minute with a great low shot just outside the box on an assist by Boateng. 1-0 Milan.
In the 12th minute, Pelissier had a rare chance that was blocked by Amelia, and then Aquilani sent a ball over to Ibra in the 16th which Ibra struck beautifully to score his 100th Serie A goal in 196 matches. 2-0 Milan.
Just 5 minutes later, Davide Mandelli tried to foul Ibra by kicking his calf, but instead injured himself to the point that he was subbed off. Ouch. But I guess some people have to learn the hard way, don’t mess with Ibra. He’s got calves of titanium.
The 29th saw a Michael Bradley free kick easily saved by Amelia, there was just no threat from these Chievo boys. And in the 32nd, Aquilani took a shot that was rebounded out for the speed of light striker we call Pato, who tapped it in like taking candy from a baby. Easy. 3-0 Milan.
The 37th saw Ibra take a free kick that went just over the crossbar again. And in the 42nd, perhaps the Flying Donkeys’ best opportunity on the night was a lovely cross from Sammarco over to the left side of the box for a completely unmarked Michael Bradley, but his shot went wide.
To add insult to injury, Luciano desperately fouled Pato in the box, having been unable to match his blistering pace, which earned himself he game’s only yellow and gave Milan a penalty kick in the 44th. And so Ibra, already on the board, stepped up to take a brilliant free kick for his 101st Serie A goal. Too easy. 4-0 Milan. Antonini, perhaps out of kindness to Chievo, perhaps shocked to have the chance on goal, took a shot in the 45th that curled ridiculously wide. Maybe the Flying Donkeys felt better about themselves after that.
Virtually the only noteworthy moments of the second half were the substitutions. Hatemaj came on for Luciano at the half and was more dangerous than all of the other Chievo players combined. But that’s not saying mucyh. A 62nd minute substitution of Vacek for Rigoni didn’t really do much to improve their play, they were simply the lesser team on the night.
Allegri subbed well, starting with Emanuelson on for Boateng in the 61st, then Robinho coming on for Ibra in the 68th, and finally, El Shaarawy coming on for Pato in the 77th. Amelia, deputizing for the injured Abbiati, had a couple of decent saves, a Pelissier free kic in the 70th, and a Hetemaj shot in the 87th that tested him a bit, but again, it was just too easy.
At one point in the second half, the camera zoomed in on Pelissier and Yepes, former teammates, smiling & arms around each other. Not a minute later, Yepes fouled Pelissier as if he was his mortal enemy. I love football. Again and again, Yepes denied Pelissier and made sure he knew they might be friends during dead balls, but when the ball was in play, they were definitely not. Poor Pelissier.
Other than that, I noticed that Thereau had blatantly copied Abate’s terrible haircut. I guess someone told him it was cool? Anyway, he couldn’t copy Abate’s pace and determination today, he was left playing Donkey in the Middle. With a second half that looked like Milan players invoked the mercy rule and a first half that saw them batter poor Sorrentino in goal, it’s no wonder we had 71% possession. And actually, we didn’t have that many shots - 13 in all - but of the 5 that were on target, we scored 4.
I never like a rout. But I didn’t mind taking this game so convincingly, as we are hot on the heels of Juventus, who are just 1 point ahead of us with a game in hand. If Napoli pull off another of their miracle wins, then we will have to keep our winning ways and wait like vultures for them to drop points and take first spot from them. Udinese are tied with us on points, but after a win like today, I am very optimistic about our chances to go top of the table before the derby in January. After all, we are the bullies. We took three points today without breaking a sweat, and kept the ball away just like Donkey in the Middle.
This post inspired by the music of Prince