AC Milan 5, F91 Dudelange 2: Legendary

This match was legendary. Not so much for Milan, though a look at the score would seem to indicate as much. No, this match was almost as shameful for Milan as it was legendary for Dudelange. You see, Dudelange had only scored one goal prior to this match in the Europa League Group Stage. But today, they scored four. At the San Siro. Unfortunately, two were own goals, but still. The stuff that legends are made of.

Bonnefoi didn't have a good night, but his team are still legendary

I read some poor reviews of The Croatian Hobbit’s™ (aka Halilovic’s) first Milan start, but I actually thought he did some nice things. He controlled the ball well and created a few chances, I’d like to see more. Milan dominated the first 20 minutes or so, taking multiple shots, and then in the 21st, Cutrone scored with a lovely little assist from Higuain. 1-0 Milan. That made Cutrone the youngest Italian to reach ten goals in European cup competition, which is actually amazing.

All was right with the world until that point. But Milan began to slip, and Dudelange became a little more brave. Until finally, in the 39th, Stolz scored a goal to equalize, 1-1. Ironically, amidst  our makeshift defense, it was Cutrone left trying to clear that shot, and he nearly did. I think that kid can do just about anything.

The Croatian Hobbit™... please send him there and back again

It was probably best that there were only approximately 15,000 Milan fans who turned up to a Thursday early evening game in November. But for the few hundred Dudelange fans, they witnessed history. And it got better just four minutes into the second half with a brilliant goal from Turpel to give Dudelange the lead, 2-1. I am sure every Dudelange fan fantasizes about the final whistle being blown at that point. Because they would have had an epic win that was very deserved.

But Gattuso not only subbed, but he subbed early, and subbed well. (I think I’ve only written that one other time this season.) So on top of taking a chance on the slightly coarse but tough young Simic to make a back four, he chose the 4-4-2, the formation most fans agree has been the best for this squad. And he only made six changes to the starting lineup for this match. (To be fair, that may have been out of necessity, given that all of the other players are pretty much injured.) Whatever the reason, it was all of those decisions that helped Milan (and Dudelange) dig out of the hole they found themselves in just after the break.


He replaced the Croatian Hobbit™ with Suso, who made an obvious and immediate impact. Then he replaced the mostly worthless Bertolacci (who had also taken a knock,) with Jose Mauri. From what I’ve seen, Mauri deserves the start ahead of Bertolacci. But Gattuso has repeatedly said women have no place in football, so clearly all of the stats that support my theory must also be wrong. Certainly, Mauri did more in his 30 minutes than Bertolacci did in his 60 minutes. And on a humorous note, Mauri was the first player I saw being asked for his jersey from a Dudelange player.

There was some contact in the box involving Mauri, who ended up on the ground, and Zapata’s attempts at being a captain earned him a yellow card for dissent from the referee. In the 67th, it seemed like Calhanoglu scored, only UEFA deemed it enough of a deflection from Cruz go give it to him as an own goal. Either way, it leveled the match at 2-2. Not content with that, Calhanoglu scored an actual goal in the 70th to make it 3-2 Milan. Calhanoglu shone tonight, I hope that is a sign of his injury healing. Not content with allowing us to win on our own, their captain, Schnell, scored a solid own goal in the 77th. 4-2 Milan. But whatever, Dudelange scored four goals. At the San Siro. I hope they are celebrating tonight.

And that's why they're starters

To complete Gattuso’s reward for finally making good decisions, Borini came on for Cutrone, who needs to save his legs for Sunday’s match, where Higuain is not available. I cannot emphasize how much I applaud this decision, even if it involves Borini and his hideous hair taking the pitch. The reward came 46 seconds later, though, after Suso sent the ball in and Calhanoglu made an attempt that was rebounded, Borini slotted the ball in straight past Bonnefoi to make it 5-2 Milan.

There were a couple of knocks in stoppage time to Bakayoko and Reina that looked ominous, but hopefully they are fine. My pride is not fine, as this match was rather embarrassing. Even when the camera focused on Gazidis, who was in the stands again ahead of becoming CEO on Saturday, he seemed to be thinking “How am I going to market this nightmare of a team?” But we got the win, and now still have a chance when we head to Athens to qualify for the next round.

The odd man out

More importantly, Gattuso got a lot of things right in this match. Though his hand may have been forced by injury, he rested Kessie and Rodriguez, both of whom have been carrying niggling little injuries and generally running nonstop all season. He used the best system for the players, he subbed well and the subs actually made an impact. And despite being down to Dudelange, drowning in humble pie, his decisions impacted the match enough to make the comeback. That is a small victory in and of itself.

People who didn’t watch this will see the score and think Milan dominated. Some might note the two goals conceded and raise an eyebrow. Hopefully, they don’t notice Dudelange’s two own goals, without which Milan would have barely scraped by with a 3-2 win. But Dudelange should be ecstatic, even in loss. They kept up with the big kids and scored two great goals at the San Siro. They scored two more, too, which is also impressive, but maybe not in the same way. Milan did just enough to get the win, but today, Dudelange became legendary.

This post inspired by the music of David Bowie’s Heroes

Our next match is
Serie A Week 14
Milan vs. Parma
Sunday, December 2 • 12:30 CET (6:30am EST)

AC Milan 5, F91 Dudelange 2: Legendary AC Milan 5, F91 Dudelange 2: Legendary Reviewed by Elaine on 11:43 PM Rating: 5
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