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Parma 0, Milan 2: Luck o’ the Dutch

It wasn’t the lucky green bibs that Milan subs wore, because I doubt that anyone at Milan even had any idea it was St. Patrick’s Day or any of the superstitions that go with it. It wasn’t that Parma fielded a Leprechaun to terrorize the Milan makeshift defense, either. We had a couple or miracles, but today, we were lucky to have Urby Emanuelson, the jack-of-all-positions, supposed master of none, to bring home the win at Parma.



And Milan certainly got lucky. In a first half that demonstrated our brute force more than our talents, we didn’t come out our usual possession-controlling, cohesive and attacking selves. Other than El Shaarawy getting hacked down by Lucarelli in the 3rd minute, It was all Parma (and all scary) until the 16th.

In the 16th minute was what I like to call the Miracle of Zaccardo. Zaccardo has a habit of gifting goals to the other team, and tonight was Milan’s turn. On a long ball up to Ibra who passed it back to Emanuelson, Zaccardo went to block Urby’s otherwise open shot with his hand. He earned himself a yellow for the handball, and the ref accordingly awarded Milan a penalty. And when Ibra takes a penalty, he scores. 1-0, Milan. Ibra’s 20th Serie A goal of the season. Even though it was a fair call, and Zaccardo was at fault, it was like a sucker punch to a Parma side that were totally outplaying the league leaders.

Thanks to Zaccardo the wannabe keeper

After the goal, though, Milan woke up for a while and played more like ourselves. Ibra had a great shot in the 20th that was saved, and Urby had a chance to score on the rebound, but pulled a Robinho™. Giovinco was fouled by Ambrosini, kind of like when someone steps on a piece of gum and doesn’t realize it’s there. (I love Giovinco, he’s so adorable, but I can’t help it with the size jokes. Sorry!) In the 26th, Donadoni was forced to use his first sub by bringing on the recently recovered Musacci for Mariga, who had been injured a few minutes prior but was unable to continue.

In the 33rd, the great controversy of the referee continued when Zaccardo, who usually only gifts one goal per game, took Ibra down in the box. Did Ibra fall too easy? Or was it bias again from the refs because of his size? Whatever, I’m glad he didn’t get the call, we don’t need to feed any more media sound bytes. Paletta earned a yellow in the 37th for a nasty tackle on Ibra, but it was mostly Parma again. In the 42nd was the Miracle of the Crossbar. In a very rare (but human) error, Thiago Silva attempted to clear a ball with his head, and nearly deflected it into his own goal. But the lucky crossbar stopped what could have been a disaster.

The one man defense

In the 42nd, Ibra made a great run forward that left him one v. one with Mirante, and he Robinhoed™ it, too. (Well actually, Mirante deflected his shot out.) And the second half ended with El Shaarawy making a shot that was also saved by Mirante. So maybe it wasn’t just luck, maybe it was a great performance by Mirante. Milan took 15 shots, 6 on target, and all four of Mirante’s saves were great.

In the second half, both teams came to play. Abbiati was also forced into some great saves, Parma took 19 shots with 4 on goal. But the comedy came when Nocerino bodychecked Luca Banti, the referee. He wasn’t necessarily very apologetic about it, either, which sends a message: Nocerino may be slightly vertically challenged, but on the pitch, he will win every challenge. He had a great game tonight. He may not show up on the stat sheet, but he was brilliant.

Not luck, pure class and skill. Well done, Urby!

In the 55th came the luck of the Dutch, though, that sealed the win. Urby basically passed it to himself, through Ibra’s legs, running fearlessly toward Mirante uncontested, and this time, he took the shot and made it in spectacular style. 2-0 Milan. Luck o’ the Dutch.

He was not able to convert a chance 5 minutes later when Ibra chipped it in amidst a few defenders, but his heroics were not tainted, it would have been very hard to score this time. In the 62nd, Antonini earned himself a needless yellow, meaning I believe he will miss our match vs. Roma for card accumulation. Both he and Bonera played well enough, in that they did not make horrific blunders (although Antonini risked being sent off in stoppage time for an elbow.) But still, we very much missed our starting back four. And since when do we judge a player’s performance simply by not screwing up?

Will he ever be a starter?

Donadoni, as most coaches are prone to do, used all three of his subs, and by the 72nd minute, too. Allegri, as he is stubbornly prone to do, did not even start subbing until the 77th, despite our continuing injury Armageddon and an incredibly difficult schedule starting Tuesday. He pulled off El Shaarawy for Maxi Lopez in the 77th, and the youngster had done some nice things but was no longer being that effective. In the 86th, Aquilani came on for the hero of the night, Urby. But the one everyone wanted was Gattuso, who came on for Muntari in the 90th +1. Two minutes is hardly enough time to make a tremendous impact, but Allegri showed that his Grinch heart grew two sizes by bringing the healing hero on for an emotional cameo. Muntari earned himself a yellow card on the way off the pitch, for "verbal abuse." Unnecessary, but guess he had to fill his quota.

Welcome back, Rino! We missed you!!

Milan weren’t great, but they weren’t horrible, either. And perhaps luck was on their side tonight. Floccari closed out the 3rd minute of stoppage time with a shot that banged off of the crossbar, a last minute heart attack for both sides. Parma were the better team for much of the match, and kept 51% possession. But Milan pulled it off, despite having one starting defender in our back 4, and a midfield that was also not our first team starters. And in the end, our talent and determination made up for any lack of performance for yet another win and a clean sheet. Luck o’ the Dutch? A little. Mark of champions is more like it.

Our next match is the Coppa Italia Semifinals 2nd Leg
Juventus vs. Milan
Tuesday, March 20th • 11:45 CET (3:45pm EDT)


This post inspired by the music of U2