Napoli 3, Milan 0: Like Lambs to the Slaughter

With the form we’ve had in the past three matches, or the complete lack thereof, this match seemed doomed from the start. But just to ensure our failure, De Sciglio got himself sent off for a tackle on Hamsik in the first minute. So Milan had to play on 10 men from about 45 seconds in. But just like losing to Genoa last week, Milan are making history: De Sciglio’s red was the fastest red in Serie A this season. And so it was, playing the entire match on 10 men, Milan were like lambs to the slaughter.

"No habla gol" as Lopez denies Higuain's penalty in the opening minutes

Despite the scoreline, it wasn’t quite a slaughter. Lopez saved Higuain’s penalty when De Sciglio was sent off, worth watching over and over again in and of itself. Epic. Milan’s three defenders staved off Napoli’s 27 shots for the first 70 minutes, and from the 77th on, too. It was just that unlucky six minutes in between that killed us. No coincidence, of course, that Bonera had been introduced nine minutes before for the not-so-convincing (yet not-so-conceding) Bocchetti. The Bonera Effect™, or as Milan fans know too well as the conceding of goals when Bonera steps onto the pitch, was in full force. In fact, he technically assisted in Hamsik’s goal in the 70th by heading it straight to the striker instead of clearing the ball. 1-0 Napoli.

The next goal would come from a brilliant Mertens pass to Higuain, who easily beat Paletta, van Ginkel, and… wait for it… Bonera. 2-0 Napoli. It seems he is not a left back, either, he can only play decently most of the time at right back. Pippo was not impressed. The third goal came just two minutes later, when Higuain’s shot was rebounded off of Lopez and straight to Gabbiadini, who was supposed to be marked by… can you guess? Our dear Bonera. 3-0 Napoli. So technically, Bonny was involved in all three goals. A great night for him and for Napoli, but not a fair result for this Milan team.

Inzaghi's face said it all

This Milan team had some fight in them. Maybe it was playing without the egocentric Menez, or the disadvantage of playing the whole match down a man that kind of woke them up. The captain’s armband weighed heavily on De Jong, or perhaps he was thinking about moving back to England or elsewhere, but his contributions were not as visible as usual. Paletta had a great game, and Poli and Bonaventura played like lions the whole night. Diego Lopez was once again our savior, with four massive saves, including the epic Higuain penalty save.

But the lamb analogy becomes most evident when looking at the stats. While I realize the need to sit back and defend becomes a reality when playing an entire match on ten men, Milan only had two shots, one on goal, in the entire match. In fact, we had zero shots the entire second half. Meanwhile, Napoli controlled the ball for 76% of the time, and took 27 shots with seven on goal. It is also worth noting, as in other recent matches, that we gave up a lot of corners: Napoli had 15 corners whereas we only had one. So yeah, more lambs than lions.

After some brilliant recent performances with the Primavera, Felicioli was thrilled to make his debut with the first team

One bright spot for many fans is that Inzaghi finally gave a Primavera player some minutes, bringing on Felicioli for the battered Bonaventura in the 84th minute. And despite the stats and especially the scoreline, this team really did fight the entire match. It’s not their fault that they were outnumbered and outclassed in every way. As for Benitez, he may have won the Fight of the Century, but he didn’t rest many players ahead of their Europa League semifinal, which shows that he felt he needed his A team to defeat Milan’s sad and withered little squad. Even on ten men, they were incredibly lucky to pull off the win tonight, what with their incredibly wasteful shooting against what has been known as one of the worst defenses in the league this year. Either that or he knew his team needed a big win after being humiliated against Empoli this past week. Or both.

The numbers will show that Milan were just lambs to the slaughter, but I was grateful to see some fight in them after the past few games. This season has been so very painful, and doesn’t look to be getting any better as we face a coming-into-form Roma on Saturday at the San Siro. If we had played this well with eleven men, the result and the stats could have been very, very different. There may be rejoicing in Napoli tonight, but Milan should be leaving with their heads held high for the first time in a few matches. Well except poor De Sciglio. And Bonera. Okay, most of the team should be holding their heads high. As it was, they were like lambs to the slaughter.

This post inspired by the music of Garbage

Our next match is
Milan vs. Roma
Saturday, May 9 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

Napoli 3, Milan 0: Like Lambs to the Slaughter Napoli 3, Milan 0: Like Lambs to the Slaughter Reviewed by Elaine on 6:25 PM Rating: 5
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