Milan 1, Sampdoria 0: Righting the Ship

Going into this match, we knew there were three points available to us. But we also knew that Sampdoria were only three points ahead of us, and that they could cause problems in our nice string of results. What we got, though, was a performance that thoroughly entertained the 47,000 fans at the San Siro. And it only took one goal to bring us three points and help us right the ship.

They even celebrate with more grinta now

Things started off with a bang when Murru clearly handled the ball in the area and Milan were awarded a penalty. That penalty was taken by the designated penalty taker who was on the pitch, Rodriguez. And it was also saved by Viviano, the man with the worst facial hair (and best penalty saving record) in Serie A. Seriously? Floating sideburns? Is that like a circus thing? Anyway, despite the disappointment in the saved penalty, Milan fought back. And in the 13th, Calabria sent a dream cross in and Bonaventura put it in the back of the net and then just kept running in celebration. That’s how fit Gattuso has this team. 1-0 Milan.

Sampdoria had a claim for a penalty when Calabria handled the ball, but with the VAR review, it showed that the infraction occurred just outside the penalty area. As in Calabria’s body was inside, but his hand and the ball were outside. So tight. And because VAR only has jurisdiction inside the penalty area, it could not overturn Doveri’s call to give them nothing at all, so Sampdoria even missed out on the free kick that should have been awarded. Sucks to be Genoa. I mean if they had had that free kick, maybe they would have tallied more than nine shots altogether, with only two on target the entire game. Maybe.

The kid had the assist, the unpunished handball, and a great game overall

But the real tragedy was in the 44th, when Bonucci scored a brilliant goal courtesy of a brilliant Calhanoglu assist… only to have it called back for offside. Which was the right call, but also a serious bummer for all of us fans who loved that goal from our captain. Still only 1-0.

There was a comical delay of game at the start of the second half when a linesman had to have his flag repaired with tape, and even Gattuso got the assist. But with the expensive VAR technology in place, we couldn’t have a simple linesman having technical difficulties, right?

Absolute monster.

After the delay, Calhanoglu hit the post right away in the 52nd, he was a monster in this match. And our chances kept on coming, with 20 shots in all, with eight of those on target. In the 71st, Bonaventura received a yellow card for diving, but in the replays, it looked like he had a pretty decent assist by Sampdoria players there. Whatever, there are worse errors that could be made.

Silva replaced Cutrone in the 73rd, and despite no goals again from him, he played really well. Like in the 76th, when he was pulled down, and still headed the ball from the ground to Calhanoglu, whose attempt was unfortunately saved. Speaking of falling to ground, Montolivo memorably slipped and fell of his own accord at least twice. But after he achieved the unthinkable for him: a clean tackle in the 80th, Gattuso wisely subbed him off at the pinnacle of his performance for Locatelli in the 86th.

He scores and just keeps on running. Grinta.

Many regard this match to be one of our best performances all year. Certainly, looking back at the predictably flat performances with the unpredictable lineups of Montella, this one sizzled. But I saw it more as a massive step in righting the ship. The mentality has changed so much. This group of mercenaries we bought last summer are finally a family, and our fitness levels match the desire with which they play when they take the pitch. We still have room to grow tactically, but Gattuso has them playing consistently, something we haven’t seen in years. And though on paper it will only be seen as a 1-0 win over Sampdoria, in our hearts it will leave an indelible mark as a game where we took control and gave up very few chances for 90 minutes. Such a massive change for us, such a great time to be a Milan fan.

This post inspired by the music of Annie Lennox’s “Into the West”

Our next match is
Europa League Round of 32
AC Milan vs. Ludogorets
Thursday, February 22 • 21:05 CET (3:05pm EST)


Milan 1, Sampdoria 0: Righting the Ship Milan 1, Sampdoria 0: Righting the Ship Reviewed by Elaine on 6:47 AM Rating: 5
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