Europa League: AC Milan 2, Craiova 0: Picture Perfect

There were over 65,000 fans in the stadium. The Curva prepared a lovely coreo that read “My heart is sad when far from you.” And Montella lined up a starting 11 without Montolivo or Borini. All of the hype, all of the hope, all of the money spent this summer were resting on this game, the first home game with the new squad. And the first European game Milan have played at the San Siro in over 3 years, even if it was just a qualifier. It was bound to be brilliant or an epic fail, but not likely anything in between.

Oil on canvas by Giacomo Bonaventura

The team decided to show early on that it was going to be brilliant when Kessie and Cutrone connected well but could not score in only the second minute. Then Kessie put a screamer into the back of the net in the 6th minute, only to have the goal called back for offside. Such a shame. That one took my breath away. But fans didn’t have to wait long, as Bonaventura scored in the ninth minute to bring the score to 1-0 Milan, 2-0 on aggregate. So great to see him back and scoring his first European goal. The celebration scenes were indeed like a work of art.

The Curva did what they do best 

This match was also Donnarumma’s first match in front of the fans who abused and threatened to kill him. Imagine their relief when, in the 20th minute, he had a gargantuan save one on one with Mitrita. Good thing no one killed him, that was a save of exquisite beauty. He was solid as a rock tonight, what maturity from someone so young.

Survivor and savior

Kessie was a beast. Conti might be an alien, what an amazing performance Suso… I missed him so much. He was just epic in this match. He played so well last season, but putting him with even better players, he just raised the bar even higher. Rodriguez has already had some goals saved in preseason that would have made a top five goals of the week list, and free kicks that make your toes curl, too. He has just been a revelation. Well except for that elbow in the 45th. A deserved yellow for that one.

His goal criminally called back

The second half kicked off with a Cutrone goal in the 51st resulting from a Rodriguez free kick. 2-0 Milan, 3-0 on aggregate. That kid is more than just hungry for goals, he is at one with the back of the net. So amazing. Kind of wonder sometimes why we are still shopping for another striker.

Wonder if Cutrone means "grinta" in Italian?

Not sure if the team took their foot off the gas for the second half, or if it was about the heat and the substitutions, but they did take it down a notch or two. Zapata got his random yellow card out of the way, and Calanoglu came on for Suso in the 65th. Good to see both of them getting fit again after their respective ban and injury. André Silva, who had a slight foot injury, replaced Cutrone, who was cramping up, in the 71st. And despite being spared any Montolivo minutes, we did endure nine minutes of Borini, aka the most fit Milan player in years.

A deserved win, with room to grow

I was disappointed that in the 67th, after a foul called against Milan, that the players swarmed the ref. We need a proper captain out there and fast. Which brings up the Bonucci and Biglia issue again. After learning last week that Milan were struggling to get the bonds they needed to secure the two players, ahead of the match we learned that a bank that is also Milan’s sponsor refused to secure the bonds as well. With only eight days left to find the financing, Milan are under the gun, or the players will not be able to play.

It's not fake news if they really can't play

Fassone tried to calm the fans down and mentioned that no other clubs have deposited their bonds, either. But he failed to point out that other teams are not being refused, either, least of all by banks which sponsor them. Other teams don’t have a debt ratio that prevents Italian banks financing the bonds, and other teams aren’t already playing competitive matches. Oddly, no one is talking about the fact that after a Kardashian-level spending spree, Milan have not spent a penny for players they claim they want. Is that also due to their debts, inability to finance, and dwindling cash? Or just a really obtuse coincidence? (please send hate Tweets directly to @TwitterAbuse and just block yourself, it will save me a lot of time. Thanks.)

The Curva honored them with a banner saying they were the most important signings of the season

Despite the telltale financial cracks in the exquisite vase that this new Milan has sculpted, this match was amazing. A great improvement from last week in Romania and so refreshing. Some of the best football I’ve seen Milan play in a long time, even if there was also still plenty of room for improvement. Just exciting to think what lies ahead of us with all of this brilliant new talent (and Borini.) And now tomorrow we find out our opponent for the fourth qualifying round of the Europa League. But tonight, we enjoy the delicious win, the incredible fans, the brilliant coreo, and Montolivo’s armband-free perch on the bench. For all of those reasons and more, it was picture perfect.

This post inspired by the music of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”

Stay tuned for the Europa League Fourth Qualifying Round Draw to learn our next opponent

Europa League: AC Milan 2, Craiova 0: Picture Perfect Europa League: AC Milan 2, Craiova 0: Picture Perfect Reviewed by Elaine on 11:37 PM Rating: 5
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