Milan 2, Napoli 0: Double-barreled Miracle

On paper, I honestly seriously doubted we’d win this one. And when the lineups came out, I was quite certain we would lose. But then a miracle happened. Piatek scored a goal. Then another. And that’s all it took to knock Napoli out of the Coppa Italia and create a euphoria long missing at Milan. It was a regular double-barreled miracle.

The kind of celebration we could get used to

The starting lineup from Gattuso looked ominous, barren as a desert and missing Calabria, Suso, Rodriguez, and Calhanoglu. To say I doubted Gattuso would be a massive understatement. In fact, I was more likely to be convinced he was matchfixing than just downright crazy. But for once, he kept enough pieces and carefully chose the players from the bench. And like a tightrope walk, it worked. Or, you can blame it on Borini, because with him in our starting lineup, we cannot seem to lose. Either way, I am happy to admit I was wrong.

From insinuated matchfixing to miracle worker

It only took Piatek two shots and ten minutes to get one past Meret. 1-0 Milan. And his famous “pistolera” celebration was every bit as fun to watch as a Milan fan as I hoped it would be. Perhaps more incredible, Laxalt, never really impressing this season and long-benched, is the one who sent the long ball in for that goal, placing it perfectly for the new arrival. Laxalt was also solid defensively, it was miraculous.

A fitting celebration for our new gunslinger

After Milik hilariously blocked his own player, Fabian’s shot in the 22nd, Paqueta got the assist for yet another Piatek goal. 2-0 Milan in the 27th. I am fangirling as much as the next person over Piatek, but Paqueta has been brilliant so far, and I’m thrilled that he got on the stat sheet with that assist. (Now can I go back to talking about Piatek?)

That was all it took. Milan had zero yellow cards, Napoli had three, two of them earned because of Piatek. It seems they have no other answer for him but to foul him. They tried everything to get on the scoreboard themselves, with Insigne being the most frustrated by Gigio’s incredible saves. It was a little sad to watch Ancelotti come up empty, because I would never wish that on him. But also a little thrilling to watch Gattuso, the “son,” defeat him, the “father.” Not that I think Gattuso is a better coach at all. He just was lucky enough to foster the right amount of determination, find a talented player who stepped straight into the Milan jersey, and a group that was hungry after so many setbacks and so much criticism.

Well covered at both ends

Everyone earned their pay tonight, for once Gattuso’s changes galvanized the team more than they handicapped it, and Napoli were seriously impacted mentally by the two early goals. What a difference from the Milan team that on Serie A matchday one, also went up two early goals, but then choked up three for Napoli to win that one. And how exciting is it to have found a balance and have a couple of new players that have just stepped right in to the starting lineup to immediately improve it?

Also amazing

It all feels surreal, and yet it also feels like home. We are heading to the Coppa Italia semifinals, a two-legged affair, against either Inter or Lazio. This game was the kind of football we have been longing to see again for so long. And that it came with four bench players is even more exciting. Have we finally reached that point where our bench is catching up with our starting lineup? Maybe that was just luck tonight. But Piatek is the real deal. In addition to being a stellar person, he is an incredible striker. It may have been a team effort, but it was his heroics that turned this into a double-barreled miracle.

This post inspired by the music of Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got a Gun”

Our next match is
Serie A Week 22
Roma vs. Milan
Sunday, February 3 • 20:30 CET (2:30pm EST)

Milan 2, Napoli 0: Double-barreled Miracle Milan 2, Napoli 0: Double-barreled Miracle Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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