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Milan 2, Roma 1: Victorious



It’s the kind of game Milan fans live for: a crowd of 58,000 fans at the San Siro. Both Milan and Roma royalty there in legends like Maldini, Kaka, Leonardo, and Totti. Even our hedge fund owner, Gordon Singer was there. All to watch a spectacle. And a spectacle was exactly what they got. Not only the show, but the three points and bragging rights, too. Victorious.

The team celebrates a team victory (even Conti!)

After a shaky start against Napoli, fans were hungry for more and better, and in this match, they got it. The possession-rich passing game that we saw last week had been fine-tuned, and Milan dominated the first half with over 60% possession. Absent was the Bonucci long ball of last season, this game was all about careful, completed passes and building plays like one might build a house – not that exciting to watch, but very impressive when complete.

Because of this careful possession and passing, Milan also took a lot of chances. In fact, they took 26 shots with ten on goal, which was incredibly impressive to watch. And the first shot to come to fruition was in the 40th, when Kessie took a cross from Rodriguez and sent it home. 1-0 Milan. I would like to point out that Kessie has been playing particularly well ever since I made him smile by calling out his name here in Los Angeles this summer. I’m not taking credit for the goal, but I may have helped boost his confidence. Just saying.

I love this guy so much

Back to the game, however, the second half got real very quickly when Di Francesco subbed on El Shaarawy at the half. And Cristante in the 68th, too. I was certain our exes would hurt us. But I was wrong. It was Fazio who scored for Roma in the 59th. 1-1 all. Higuain was not having that, though, and scored a great goal in the 61st, only to have the goal called back for being inches offside after a VAR review. It should have been his debut goal, and it was beautiful, but it was not to be.

As we have seen before, though, the great VAR giveth, and it also taketh away. So when N’zonzi scored in the 79th, VAR also tooketh that one away. Turns out he committed not one, but two handballs in the scramble to score that goal. My commentators, who must worry more about their hair (though not on camera) than being familiar with the FIFA laws of the game, claimed that goal shouldn’t have been called off based on the lack of intent on his part. But intent is only part of the handball rule, a bigger factor in calling a handball is if the contact with the arm or hand created an advantage. And juggling the ball with not just one bot both hands did absolutely create an advantage in this situation. Absolutely fair call. (And someone please fire those commentators. I liked it better when, for the first 26 minutes, there were no commentators on my stream.)

Higuain beastly performance, but still waiting for that official debut goal

Gattuso watched his side lose something mentally again in the second half, but not enough to lose. Where they got a bit less careful and gave up more possession to a team that should have been dominating, but weren’t, they still held together and played well enough that the Mister finally remembered to make some subs beginning in the 76th minute. First was Laxalt on for Ricardo Rodriguez. Which was odd, because Rodriguez was having an amazing game. After the N’Zonzi goal was taken away by VAR, Castillejo made his debut as he came on for Calhanoglu. Similarly, Calhanogly was also playing very well, it seemed that Gattuso just was going with a preconceived plan for substitutions. But the third time is a charm, and he brought Cutrone on for Bonaventura.

The match was tense, Roma got two yellow cards and also made some subs. And then it happened. With 30 seconds to play, Higuain had the ball at the top of the box in traffic. We all know he could have taken that shot, and likely would have made it. But unselfishly and wisely, he saw the young sub Cutrone running in like a shark when there is blood, and threaded it through to him, who caught Olsen off guard and scored the winner. 2-1 Milan.

An unselfish assist to a cold-blooded finisher for the winner

If the 58,000 fans there each screamed half as much as I did here, there must have been some seismic equipment that was triggered by the celebration. Gattuso jumped into Cutrone’s arms, people were running and screaming everywhere. It was such a thing of beauty. And after Guida dutifully lined everyone up again to give Roma their last 20 seconds or whatever on the clock and then the final whistle blew, the celebrations really exploded. It was so heartening to see Leonardo, Maldini, and Kaka celebrating, too. Especially since they had managed to send a number of players who were not being used by Gattuso out by the end of the final transfer window, too. All of that dead weight seemed to have helped lift this team to victory, too. Not even the persistent ran put a damper on this match for Milan.

How all of us felt at 90+5'

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and Gordon Singer should have had a great impression of his first trip to the San Siro last night. What a great victory for him, having taken such a risk to hold onto Milan and help rebuild. A victory, too, for Leonardo & Maldini, for jumping into a mess and sorting things out so well and so quickly. A victory for Gattuso for holding to his guns despite so much criticism, and seeing it come to fruition in the form of three points against a formidable opponent. An amazing victory for a team, who have come this far on belief, and now proved to the world and to themselves that they can, in fact, do it. And such a delicious and amazing victory for fans, who saw a new identity rising out of the ashes of so much management failure in these recent years. This game was a feel good match, but it was also a statement match: Milan are playing to win again. And that alone made us victorious.


This post inspired by the music of Panic at the Disco’s “Victorious”