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Udinese 1, Milan 2: I DO Believe in Miracles

You win some and you lose some, and with our injury woes and recent form, I was quite certain that we would lose this one. Or maybe with a lot of luck, draw. But I held on to a tiny thread of hope, and that collective bit of everyone’s faith was enough for our boys to find us a miracle today. A miracle that sends a warning shot to Juventus, who can’t do anything but wait to make up their two postponed matches. And a miracle that kept Udinese in their place, at least for now, handing them their first home loss of the season. Che miracolo!

It must have been the hairstyles.

The game started dismally. Our players were lethargic, and we didn’t seem to have any desire whatsoever to attack. So in the 19th, the capo cannoniere for 2 years running and current league scoring leader, Di Natale, just waltzed right past Mexés and then Silva and scored a goal, pretty as you like, in the 19th minute. 1-0 Udinese. My heart sank. Even though I was worried we wouldn’t win, it couldn’t be this bad, could it?

The Energizer bunny of scoring in Serie A

Ambrosini then got a yellow card for a tough tackle on Basta. Then in the 31st, Di Natale schooled Mexés, but luckily wasn’t able to score. In the 38th, Silva was called for a fould, a foul that Allegri didn’t like, which meant Bergonzi had to give him a little talking to. After being sent off & receiving a 3.000 euro fine, one would think he would stay in his area and not yell at the fourth officials, but I’m sure he’s felt the stress lately, and is definitely very passionate about winning. Luckily the talking to was all he got on this day.

Our first shot on target came not from our strikers, but from Mexés, who made the run forward for a shot that was unfortunately easy for Handanovic to handle. El Shaarawy also broke through in the final minute of stoppage time in the half, but the ball was cleared away at the very last second by Udinese.

Frustrated, I had a hard time keeping the faith at the half. Would Allegri sub? Ever? Could we maybe get an equalizer? We had tied our last 3 meetings with Udinese, maybe a point was something to aspire after our dismal performance in the first half.

Exactly how I felt about the whole first half.

The 2nd half started and immediately you could tell there was something different. We didn’t play a whole lot better, but our players seemed to have a confidence they were sorely lacking in the first half. A belief that they could pull themselves out of this tailspin and come away from the Friuli with 3 points.

Urby put a nice cross in for Nocerino, who just missed the header in the 48th. Di Natale and Thiago Silva continued their lover’s quarrels, as did Mexés and the ref in the 52nd. But it’s okay, it’s Valentine’s weekend, these things happen. Poor Isla got tangled up first with Seedorf, and then with Ambrosini. Ambrosini actually landed on Isla’s leg, causing it to bend in very unnatural ways, which caused him to be stretchered straight off the pitch and into the locker room. I hope he’s okay, I hate injuries like that.

110% effort. That's how miracles happen.

So of course, Guidolin was forced into a substitution, Pasquale came on for Isla in the 61st. Mesbah had a clearance on Armero in the 62nd that more than makes up for any crosses he’s bungled. Love to see that on the left side. in the 66th, just as I was complaining about him not subbing, Allegri finally made a change. He brought on Maxi Lopez for…. Nocerino?? What on earth was he thinking? This was the second match in a row he subbed off the best performing midfielders. I can only assume that he was resting him for Arsenal, but I was frightened nonetheless.

In the meantime, we learned that Ambrosini can put the ball forward, but sometimes it’s just too much, and also that Basta can scream like a girl when tackled. Also that Amelia can save big when needed, on a shot in the 75th by Domizzi. Thank you, Amelia. That ridiculously amazing Di Natale came off for a very talented Floro Flores in the 75th, clearly Guidolin could see the change in attitude, too, and wanted to counter it. And in the 76th, Amelia made another big save by punching it over the crossbar.

Grazie, Maxi!

But I could have never predicted what came next. El Shaarawy got a shot off that was rebounded out, and Maxi Lopez booted that ball right in. Goal! Maxi Lopez with the equalizer! 1-1. It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it. That would have been good enough for me, my mood had changed dramatically, but our boys kept fighting, even getting in the way of each other, if necessary.

The parade of “This game is frustrating, I’m going to be rash and make mistakes” yellow cards came next: Thiago Silva got his in the 79th, Armero got one for kicking the ball after the whistle in the 84th, and Abdi earned his for a bad challenge on El Shaarawy in the 89th.

But the miracle of all miracles came in the 85th, when El Shaarawy scored on an assist from Maxi Lopez. I couldn’t believe it, it was so amazing!! 1-2 Milan!! Not even Allegri bringing on Bonera for Robinho in the 88th could dampen my disbelief or keep me calm while waiting through 90 minutes plus 4 of stoppage time. Could we actually take this one from Udinese? They so deserved at least the draw, if not the win, they had absolutely been the better team on the day.

Miracles do happen.

Abdi got one more shot in the 90th +1, and Milan just parked the bus until the ref blew his whistle. YES! We had managed to steal 3 points! Che miracolo! What a miracle!! a token of consolation for our injury plagued season. And the timing couldn’t be better. Fans have been restless and frustration levels have been their highest on and off the pitch. We play Arsenal on Wednesday in the Champions League, a match we’ll be limping into, lucky to see Pato, Boateng, and Nesta return. A match that Abbiati may or may not be fit for, either. If ever we needed a miracle, it was on this day. And our boys delivered it. Grazie, ragazzi. I DO believe in miracles.


Our next match is the Champions League Round of 16 first leg
Milan vs. Arsenal
Wednesday, February 15th • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

This post inspired by the music of Kool and the Gang