Milan 3, Cagliari 0: A Habit of Winning

There are good habits and bad habits, and Milan are developing a very good habit… of winning. Granted, based on stats and records this year, Milan were virtually a shoe-in to win tonight. Poor Cagliari never stood much of a chance. But that didn’t stop Milan from showing up for work and taking care of business like champions. Which is good, because our upcoming schedule is anything but easy, and it’s good we put in a good day’s work and brought home the win this week.

Ibra the tour guide did in fact show Cagliari the back of their net first.

One habit we have I’m not so fond of is starting slow. I liked it better when we score within the first ten minutes and put the game to bed before halftime. But in this match, Cagliari were just falling all over themselves (or us) and we gave them a few opportunities before we got on the scoreboard. Like in the 3rd minute when Ekdal fell over Nocerino after climbing over his back and landed on his head/shoulders. Or in the 5th, when Nesta and Mexes made a Panilla sandwich.

Speaking of Pinilla, he wins the award for the most time spent rolling around on the pitch. To be fair, he was roughed up a little bit. Like in the 12th, when van Bommel earned his yellow card on a foul from behind on Pinilla. In fact, I think Pinilla was responsible for pretty much all of the stoppage time in the first and second halves. At least he sported grass on his face much of the match as proof.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, chances. Like Pinilla’s free kick in the 13th that was over the bar. Or Ekdal’s shot in the 18th that went wide. Or Ibarbo’s shot in the 23rd that was brilliantly cleared by Mexes. Or the next minute, Pinilla’s shot that went wide.

I mean Milan had our chances, too. Like Seedorf’s sliding run on goal in the 20th that he didn’t quite reach. Or a great shot in the 27th by Mesbah that was just over the bar. Or when Ibra crossed it in with nobody there in the 30th. Or Mesbah’s cross not a minute later that was grabbed by Agazzi. No, it was Ekdal’s foul on Ibra in the 31st just outside the top of the box that would give us our first goal. In the form of a free kick as awesome as Ibra himself is. 1-0 Milan.

Two members of the Milan goalscoring team (14 members and counting)

But that was not the end of awesomeness on a night when we barely needed to play better than our opponents. Nocerino. You know that guy that made left midfield all his own? Well Mexes put a long ball forward, he started running in, Ibra did the right thing and chested the ball down for him, and he sent it directly into the back of the net. 2-0 Milan.

Speaking of awesomeness, is it bad that I enjoyed Ibra toying with Canini at the beginning of the 2nd half? Like holding a treat in front of little dogs. (Canini means little dogs in Italian.) Anyway, the second half was kind of more of the same, except a little sloppier as the minutes took their toll. Ballardini subbed early and well, in the 54th, 58th, and 66th minutes. But his bench had no answers for Milan, who might have been playing at 70% power.

In a lovely piece of irony, Pinilla downed van Bommel in the 59th, to which van Bommel came up sporting a giant smile, trying to show him how you take a foul like a man. It was not a lesson learned, though, as those two mixed it up not a minute later and Pinilla stayed down even longer, hobbling off the pitch. To his credit, he did come back for more punishment.

Allegri made the first sub about 63 minutes too late, bringing in El Shaarawy for Robinho in the 63rd, who was largely ineffective in this match, though not solely for not trying, he was a bit of a defender magnet, allowing others to do the shooting and scoring and such. And, as is il Faraone’s style, he had a shot just wide from a Seedorf free kick not two minutes later. I am falling in love with this kid.

That's right, we haven't forgotten you, Capitano.

Allegri’s subs would prove key again, bringing in Ambrosini for Seedorf in the 67th, Keep in mind that Ambrosini was questionable for this match with a fever. But that was better than what Seedorf was able to give tonight, and it’s not like we had a bench full of capable midfielders. I don’t like Allegri’s habit of starting him, especially at CAM. Seedorf’s pace and frequent inability to hold the ball punishes us time and time again. Are they worth the moments of brilliance we see? He’s 35 years old, will be 36 in April, and starts all of the time. whereas Pippo, who has been with the club a year longer than him, and is only 2 ½ years older is openly touted as old in the media after Thursday’s game and wasn’t given any time in that match because of his age? Something is seriously amiss here.

But I digress. Again. Our each fullbacks had a nice cross in that Agazzi had to grab, in the 70th and 72nd. Nice to see them evolving like that. And Nesta got a yellow in the 72nd for a late tackle on… guess who? Yup. Pinilla. But the third goal came from another old guy, our captain, Ambrosini, with a great assist from that-guy-who-should-not-play-in-the-midfield, Urby Emanuelson. 3-0 Milan. Urby had a dangerous run in on goal not 3 minutes later that was unfortunately saved, too.

Urby: The Little Dutchmen that Could

The last sub was…. (drumroll please) Pippo Inzaghi! He came on for Ibra in the 84th. Was it his last match for Milan? Only the coming few days will tell. I hope not. Anyway, he made the most of his 6 minutes + stoppage time with an attempt in the 87th that had to be shut down by not one, but two defenders. After what Allegri said the other night, it was the very least he could do to give him a few minutes, and Ibra doesn’t need to play a minute longer than needed, either, even if this meant we didn’t get a peek at our shiny new Maxi Lopez.

Out of a hotel, loan deal signed, in uniform, and on the bench. He'll take it.

Mexes was more than competent in this game, maybe Silva said he’d punish him if he didn’t make him proud, but Silva had to be smiling tonight, injury and all. Well done, Mexes. Our fullbacks were awesome, this new Mesbah fellow is just what we’ve been needing. Nesta, despite the card, was his usual beautiful self. Oh, and he played well, too. Our midfield of horrors wasn’t really horrible. Van Bommel put in another great performance, I don’t care what stupid commentators say, we are blessed to have him on our team. I’ve forgotten what Nocerino looked like any other jersey, he is all Milan, with a goal and a couple of other shots, too. Emanuelson… what other lefty can play on the right? Seriously, a shot or two and the assist is fantastic from a “left back” playing right midfield. Seedorf… If only he could be a super sub, I could be more patient. And he did manage to make some great plays in spite of his pace, but if Urby is no CAM, neither is he. Nor can he run for anything close to 90 minutes. And there is nothing more I can say about our forwards than I have already said. Well except Ibra’s goal and assist just makes him even more awesome than awesome. 

Speaking of awesome, Please don't go!!

Oh, and one last thing before I sign off on this novel… the captain’s armband confusion: When Seedorf came off, he handed it to Ambrosini, the rightful captain. But if my understanding is correct, a sub cannot take the armband, it has to be given to someone already on the pitch. So he handed it to Nesta, who doesn’t like to wear it on some moral obligation to his former club or something noble like that, so he handed it off to Abbiati. And that is how the armband went from Seedorf to Abbiati, children.

This game wasn’t our finest, but it was three points we need to keep pace, and it was a definitive win nonetheless. I am fine conserving energy for the serious of giant battles we face in the next 7 weeks. And we’re developing good habits. Winning is a very good habit, indeed. Just ask Charlie Sheen.

Our next match is Lazio-Milan
Wednesday, February 1st • 20:45 CET (2:45 pm EST)

This post was inspired by the music of Nirvana

Milan 3, Cagliari 0: A Habit of Winning Milan 3, Cagliari 0: A Habit of Winning Reviewed by Elaine on 5:20 PM Rating: 5
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