Milan 1, Lazio 0: Tainted Victory

After deadlocks in the two previous meetings with Lazio this season, Milan managed to win. The fact that they won because of a referee call is ironic, given incidents for both clubs with the referees recently. That would have been a bigger part of the conversation last week, when both teams were on the wrong end of referee calls. But unfortunately, injuries, fans, and the behavior of players from both teams immediately following the match has left this one a bit of a tainted victory.

Sometimes 3 points can leave a bad taste in your mouth

The game was intense, such a great matchup with Lazio this season. Immobile tested Reina just two and a half minutes in. And then, one of my favorite highlights, Romagnoli’s exquisite tackle on Correa in the twelfth minute. But I might be missing those tackles, as both he and Calabria were injured and subbed off in the second half. Very worrisome injuries, especially considering what we have left in front of us this season. Those injuries definitely tainted this victory.

As the first half continued, Lazio were getting some chances. But Milan fought back, and created more chances of their own: Kessie, Suso, Piatek, and Calhanoglu all had chances that were saved or off target. In the end, Milan took more shots, 19 shots to Lazio’s 12, but only five of Milan’s shots were on target. The last chance of the first half belonged to Immobile, whose shot hit the outside of the post.

Better than Milan fans think right now

The second half started out with Correa being injured right away, and he was subbed off. Milan players were dropping like flies with all of the contact, and substitutions were made. The battle increased and intensified during this half, as there were more fouls, injuries, and substitutions than shots. And then, the controversies with the referee. You had to see those coming, but the reactions by players and fans alike are what made this a tainted victory.

The same look of disbelief that Milan fans had when they were actually awarded a penalty

First up, in the 76th minute, Rocchi whistled for a penalty for Milan after he saw the ball come off of Acerbi’s arm in the area. Not enough that Milan fans were already whistling Acerbi and abusing him for comments he made on social media this week. Which ironically, if he’d said the same thing in an interview, no one would have batted an eye. But criminals and keyboard warriors don’t listen to or read interviews, so unfortunately, they don’t realize what sporting comments are. After a VAR review, Rocchi reversed his decision and the penalty was not given after all. Milan fans were not happy.

That minute or two when you think you've won a penalty, before the VAR decision comes

Two minutes later, Rocchi again whistled for a Milan penalty. Durmisi and Musacchio were both going for the ball in the box, and Musacchio got all ball, while Durmisi got all Musacchio. Most people who watch football would call this without review, but given the 60,000 very vocal fans and recent controversies involving the reffing of games from both clubs, Rocchi did the right thing and waited for a VAR review. When the answer came, the penalty was, in fact, given. Lazio fans were not happy.

Kessie stepped up to take the penalty and converted it without hesitation. Such a killer from the spot. 1-0 Milan. Milan fans went insane. And not just the 60,000 of them in the stadium. This game was so massive to our Champions League hopes. Would this penalty be enough? I wonder how many people remember last week against Juventus, when reffing errors were made, and players and fans played the victim. Do they understand that errors do have a way of going both ways? Because I’m certain that Lazio fans felt victimized by the call once again. Which also made this game a bit of a tainted victory.

When you've lived past the VAR review and actually scored the penalty

It didn’t stop there, though. In the 85th, Luis Alberto made the error of fouling Borini. The mistake, he should realize now, is a little-known fact* about Borini: while in England, he trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he learned how to theatrically sell his dives like no one else in Serie A. And Rocchi fell for it. Luis Alberto got the yellow, and the other Inzaghi reacted and got himself sent off. Too bad for the other Inzaghi, too, because I think he was just giving a vociferous standing ovation to Borini for his showstopping performance. Certainly, the foul did not justify the punishment for Lazio. Lazio were not happy.

In the first minute of stoppage time, Suso sent a sublime, curling shot in that forced Strakosha into a massive save. Whatever hate you people have for that man, I will never understand, that shot was gorgeous. But the beauty couldn’t last forever, and in the 93rd, Lazio fans called for a penalty when Rodriguez tackled Milinkovic-Savic in the box. However, Rocchi merely signalled for a VAR review, which showed that Rodriguez got the ball, and then got Milinkovic-Savic on the follow-through. No penalty. Lazio fans were pissed off. (And probably still are, but why admit the call was right when you can continue the hateful narrative? That’s what Milan fans do.)

A protagonist on and off the pitch

The game was basically decided by a ref call, but it was a fair call. And Rocchi did a great job with this match. He even managed to keep the game under control with so many emotions and so much on the line, as well as the recent divisive rhetoric about referees and VAR. At least until the final whistle. Then a brawl broke out with practically everyone from both teams, based on words players were throwing around at each other. It seemed like it took all of the staff from both teams to get everyone separated and calmed down. Gattuso claims he even strained his thigh trying to hurry out and break it up. So funny, he even admitted that he used to thrive on those kinds of situations, now he is hurting himself to break them up.

But still, the fiery finish was a bit of a black eye on a tense but great match between two clubs both worthy of a top four spot. And two teams that will meet again in about ten days to determine the Coppa Italia semifinal. While the Milan win was fair and gave Milan fans both three points and the hope we needed, all of these little events added up to a tainted victory.

* This statement was personally fact checked by the Trump administration. They have determined that there was no collusion, and anyone who questions this fact is just fake news.

My name is Fabio Borini and I approve this message

This post inspired by the music of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”

Our next match is
Serie A Week 33
Parma vs. Milan
Saturday, April 20 • 12:30 CST (6:30am EDT)

Milan 1, Lazio 0: Tainted Victory Milan 1, Lazio 0: Tainted Victory Reviewed by Elaine on 10:11 PM Rating: 5
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