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Milan 2, Lazio 1: With Heart and Hand

Gattuso has been bringing back the heart in this team, it’s really about all he’s got in his toolbox. But today’s performance was truly inspired. Not only did they play with heart, scoring first and then scoring again after conceding, they played with hand: Cutrone’s goal was actually scored with his arm. It sucks to be Lazio, but for Milan, it still felt like a deserved win. So many players had great performances, and the team finally seems to be playing like a team.

T-E-A-M

Let’s just start with Calabria. Wow. We knew he had potential, but I don’t think anyone expected him to show it all in one game like he did tonight. He bossed that flank, perfect tackles, timely runs, impressive blocks, and crucial crosses. Like the assist on the second goal. Stats sites and fans alike all agree: he was the man of the match.

Calhanoglu also had a great performance, forcing Strakosha into a number of great saves, beginning in the tenth minute. His awakening since being cleared of criminal charges is nothing short of amazing. I personally am very happy that he is finding himself again, he is one of the players I was most excited about joining Milan this season.

Wow.

Kessie had another great game. Maybe he didn’t score a brace like last week, but he was personally responsible for making sure Milinkovic-Savic didn’t score, either. The lovefest between he and Gattuso is resulting in beast performance after beast performance, and it is a great time to be a Milan fan.

Let’s just pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that, despite his brilliant performance last week, how great it was to not see Kalinic start. I mean I hope his injury heals quickly for him as a person, but Cutrone starting instead was exhilarating and now legendary. His goal was scored in the 15 th minute from a brilliant Calhanoglu assist. 1-0 Milan. It looked like he headed it, but replays from certain angles clearly show that the ball came off his arm. Irrati listened to something in his headpiece, pausing a bit before restarting play, but whatever the VAR voices in his head said, the goal stood, much to the anger and frustration of the Other Inzaghi.

No 'Hand of God,' but there was some divine intervention

Lazio have been given the short end of the stick with VAR and ref calls this season, probably more than any other club, and are still in third place, a testament to their strength. But perhaps they are facing Karma for their fans’ absolutely atrocious racist behavior, who knows? I feel for them, I really do, as Milan have been on the wrong side of calls, too. It’s the nature of the game. But even without Karma, I still feel that Milan played better enough today to deserve all three points. Or maybe it was because of their fans after all, I don’t know. I don’t make the rules of Karma, but it’s certainly something for their fans to think about.

After dumb mistakes in the midfield (the kind Gattuso warned them about) allowed Marusic to score the equalizer in the 20 th, 1-1 all, Milan did not wilt or give up. They continued to fight with heart and with the strength of a team that had been taken to dinner by Suso this week (or so I heard.) And despite a bad foul by Romagnoli on Caicedo in the 33 rd that was not called, Milan proved to be too much for Lazio once again in the 44 th. Calabria whipped in a great cross and Bonaventura headed it in to score the winner, 2-1 Milan.

So much emotion for that winning goal

The second half was not boring, the tension was high for us fans who are used to witnessing a performance that gets lost in a goal or more conceded in the second half. But this time, we didn’t concede. Bonucci went down injured and played the last 30 minutes in spite of it. Donnarumma made like a hundred saves on Milinkovic-Savic alone. We survived the substitution of Borini on for Suso, like the anticlimactic ending of a brilliant movie. And we had an André Silva sighting – he got 20 minutes of helping Milan defend their lead. Honestly, I still don’t know how we did it, but we did, and victory was ours.

There were a lot of cards. A lot. Eight cards in all, two for Milan and the rest for Lazio. Barring the one Romagnoli got away with, that was pretty fair. Simone Inzaghi may have Lazio playing decent football, but no one can take the thug out of that team, it seems. They also had 14 other fouls, too. But somehow we survived. Not sure about Bonucci, and Cutrone looked like he was in pain as he came off, but hopefully there weren’t any major injuries. Especially since we have to face the Brute Squad™ again on Wednesday in the Coppa. Maybe Inzaghi will talk the refs into fixing those VAR screens by then. Or even less likely, maybe the Lazio fans will become humane and caring beings. (I can’t even type that without hysterically and ironically laughing and crying at the same time.)

I know Gattuso read my blog... he got exactly 20 minutes.

I know Lazio were missing their best player, but the way Milan played tonight, I felt like we still would have triumphed had he played. And it’s not just the handball talking. We played with teamwork, intensity, and heart throughout, and the handball was just a bit of good Karma that was long overdue us. Immobile is rumored to possibly be fit for Wednesday, so maybe we will find out if Milan really did deserve to win, or if it was just luck. But for this beleaguered fan, tonight we won with heart and hand.


This post inspired by the music of Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon”


Our next match is
Coppa Italia Semifinals Leg 1
Milan vs. Lazio
Wednesday, January 31 • 20:45 CET (2:45 EST)

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