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Coppa Italia Semifinal: Lazio 0 (4), Milan 0 (5): When Hell Freezes Over

This game was highly anticipated to be a spectacle for fans of football, and it did not disappoint. Despite it being goalless in the first 90 minutes, then 30 minutes of extra time, then going to penalties, it truly was an epic battle in which either team could have been the victor. Lazio certainly brought their A game. But at the end of penalties, it was Milan who ended up on top, for an amazing 13th game unbeaten in all competitions. And so it will be Milan that returns to Rome in May to face Juventus in the Final. Even if Milan were not expected to emerge from their trip to Rome with two victories against both Roman teams, that’s just what happens when hell freezes over.

Hell yeah

I like to think that as evenly matched as this game was, it was Millan’s class that gave us the win. Like how Gigio and Bonucci gave their little mascot kids their warmup jackets during the anthem at the beginning to keep them a little warmer in the freezing weather. Weather which seemingly the Diavoli inspired, including snowfall for the first time in six years in the capital city. And despite the freezing cold weather, the fans were in full force, too.

The first half was filled with heart attacks and chances for both sides. Gigio was brilliant with saves against Immobile and Milinkovic-Savic in the sixth and seventh minutes respectively. In the 18th, Suso forced Strakosha into a save, which rebounded, and Cutrone’s effort hit both Strakosha and the post to return the scare. There were one on one battles, Kessie earning a yellow for channeling his inner Gattuso, and Gigio coming off his line in the 34th only to see Immobile send the ball across the area. It was so tense.

The players are not the only ones who are happy

The second half was even more tense, especially when Calabria took that shot in the 56th, forcing Strakosha into a great save. It was obvious the players were getting tired, and both Calabria and Romagnoli earned yellows. With Rocchi officiating, and the game not settled in 90 minutes, it was amazing that there were only six yellows in all, actually. He exhibited incredibly self control.

Self control was exactly what I was losing after the game went to extra time. Thinking ahead to Sunday’s Derby, I was not happy that the guys were running an extra 30 minutes. So good thing that after having brought on Kalinic for Cutrone earlier, Gattuso used the extra time to sub on Montolivo for Kessie and Borini for Suso. Kalinic endeared himself to the Rossoneri fans by channeling his inner Boateng not once but twice during extra time. Luckily, not once, but at least twice, Romagnoli had some amazing stops at the other end. One was a brilliant sliding tackle on Immobile in the 96th, the other a nice save in the 106th.

Gigio was brilliant as ever

But at the end of 120 very tense minutes, the match went to penalties. Which highlighted for me the incredible heroics of Gigio Donnarumma. Both keepers were incredible. After Immobile converting the first kick, each keeper saved two each. Strakosha saved Rodriguez’ penalty, the second time he had a penalty saved this month, and of course Montolivo’s was an easy save. Then each team scored two each, but with the keepers going the right way each time. Finally, Bonucci scored, forcing Strakosha to go the wrong way, which he also did for the remaining penalties. Lulic also caused Gigio to go the wrong way and converted his, while Calhanoglu made his as well. It was Luis Felipe’s spectacular miss that gave us hope. And Romagnoli, a confessed Lazio fan stepped up with all of the weight of the final on his shoulders. Cool as ice, he stepped in front of the Curva of his heart and killed the dreams of all of the Lazio fans by converting his penalty. Milan won, five to four on penalties. We were in the finals.

It was not lost on me that Romagnoli’s face was pained as he threw the final dagger at L’Acquile. Or that he didn’t really celebrate. He had spoken the day before about memories of celebrating a trophy in that stadium with his grandfather, and his lack of celebration, even in his teammates’ enthusiastic embraces, showed that he had broken his own heart by doing his job. But the moral of this story is that he did his job. At a time when nerves alone can cause the best of players to choke, he was clinical. He finished the job like an assassin, and he made the kill for the Rossoneri.


I found myself regretting the 120 minutes of running, knowing our cross town enemies didn’t even play midweek. And even lamenting that now we have an extra game in May that could also impact our run for a European spot for next year. Lazio are to be commended, the game was hard fought, but not pretty. They lost on a penalty by a Lazio fan, with their ex-captain playing against them as well. Our defense was inspirational, Romagnoli and Donnarumma were particularly amazing. Lazio took more chances and were more clinical, but Milan deserved to win just as much as them for all of their efforts on the rest of the pitch. Even if that pitch was nearly frozen. Because that’s what happens when hell freezes over.

This post inspired by the music of Imagine Dragons’ “Whatever It Takes”

Our next match is
Serie A week 27
il Derby della Madonnina
Milan vs. Inter
Sunday, March 4 • 20:45 CET (2:45 EST)