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Milan 3, Torino 0: Sending Off


This was likely the last Milan home game for many of our players tonight, and I think the mentality was to send them off appropriately: with a win. Or maybe it was to see how many red cards we could get and have players sent off, I don’t know. At least they decided to send them off in style with those amazing new kits. But with some divine comedy, we achieved it all… the win and both actual sending offs and probable ones.

Some endings and some new beginnings

While some players are getting ready to say goodbye, with contracts expiring or otherwise, El Shaarawy was saying hello again after a series of longterm injuries. And he did it in style, as he scored a brace before being subbed off in the 67th. His first goal was in the 18th, from a Zaccardo cross of all sources. 1-0 Milan. It’s impossible to know who was the happiest.

In the 27th, it is interesting to note that Honda could have been given a yellow for the elbow to Molinaro’s face. But he wasn’t, because Valeri knew he was already on a yellow from the tenth, and Valeri is a fair referee. (looking at you, Guida.) The foul was whistled, but no card given, because everyone knows that the 27th is simply too early for a sending off.

Alright, who offered to pay for his vacation?

However, the 42nd is not. Which is when Zaccardo was sent off on a straight red. You see, he was adjudged to have prevented a clear goal scoring opportunity. Some people pointed out that Amauri was in an offside position when Zaccardo went in for the tackle, but keep in mind that in order to get the offside call, the person in the offside position must also be deemed involved in the play. And everyone knows Amauri wasn’t going to be involved in that play, so that call was never coming to save Zaccardo. Luckily, since it was outside of the box, De Jong was a one man brick wall on the Torino free kick and Abbiati kept his clean sheet. But what a fantastic way for our World Cup Winner to be sent off, leaving his team on 10 men for 48 minutes. I’ll bet Valeri was just a huge Azzurri fan, rememberin 2006, and was just waiting for his opportunity for revenge.

Speaking of sending off a World Cup Winner, Inzaghi earned himself a sending off after the half, as he was seen yelling at Valeri going into the tunnel. I don’t know what he said, but after being sent off twice in a row, and depending on how much he hassled Valeri and for how long, the league could give him a ban for that one. A shame if that is his last Milan game coached, no one wants to be sent off that way.

Everyone's crazy for Pazzo

Mexes replaced Alex at the half, and I’m no lipreader, but it looked to me like he told Paletta “Everything is going to be okay. I’m here now.” And somehow, it was, although I can’t promise that Mexes actually had anything to do with that. First was some Karma, as after Molinaro was tackled by Zaccardo earlier, he came in with a very clumsy challenge on wee little van Ginkel in the box, earning himself a straight red. The penalty was awarded, and Pazzini stepped up and converted it to make it 2-0. Only for his potential send off, it marked his 100th Serie A goal. This was a mark he had been aiming to achieve, and Abbiati, at his potential last home game, had given Pazzini the captain’s armband in hopes it would bring him luck. Such class from a player who had played for Milan since 1998, and had been completely robbed of his armband since Montolivo came to town. This could be the last time he wore it, but he gave it up for a teammate. Now that is a send off.

El Shaarawy would score his second goal in the 65th. It started with De Jong passing it to him, then the sweet give and go with van Ginkel. 3-0 Milan. How much we have missed his sublime footwork. For someone who was previously called predictable, no one from Torino saw that coming. My favorite part, though, was when Mastour came off the bench to run over and give him a hug, they have a great friendship. El Shaarawy was subbed off two minutes later for Zapata, who was apparently fielded to remind potential transfer suitors that he exists. But the sub everyone was waiting for happened in the 75th, when Poli came off for Mastalli, the captain of the Primavera team. This wasn’t the first time Inzaghi fielded a youth player this season, he had also brought on Felicioli against Napoli. And while I agree with Inzaghi’s stance that this really isn’t the right time or place to give these youth players their debut, this one was merited. That was obvious just one minute in when Mastalli took a great shot that was unfortunately deflected.

Either Mexes approves or he's hungry, I can't tell. Either way, Mastalli should run.

While poor Cerci didn’t get to remind Ventura and his former teammates of what they were missing, I think Inzaghi found what we have all been looking for tonight. If you look at the starting lineup, most of the players had been part of the team for over a year and had played together the longest. Except for a reinforced defense (albeit not our best at this moment,) and some fresh blood in the midfield. Exactly what we have been asking for all along. Not these full squads worth of changes each mercato. Stick with the core group of players and make smaller changes to our weak spots. That team that we saw tonight was just that. And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they played better, with more teamwork and understanding, too. A team is not built from mere individual talent, nor is it built from snatching up free transfers like Wal Mart customers on Black Friday. A team is built over time, and so it has taken this long to find that balance. Well that and the impact of injuries. But I for one am hoping that Galliani’s BIG mercato plans include keeping a core group and improving minimally.

Inzaghi missed a lot in the second half

My feed cut out at the whistle, but I read that it was Mexes, with a tear or two in his eyes, that reminded the guys to salute the fans. If this was truly the last match for so many of these players, how strange that Mexes would be the one to remind them of this. And yet somehow fitting, considering we are the champions of European sending offs this year. But at least the team gave these players a proper sending off at the last home match of the season. In a season to forget, this was a sending off to remember.


This post inspired by the music of Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks”


Our last match of the season is
Atalanta-Milan
Saturday, May 30* • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
*note the change in date/day