SPAL 2, Milan 2: What Just Happened?

In the tragic comedy of the season so far, Milan were down to SPAL, who were down to ten men for more than half the match, and were gifted a point by a tragic own goal scored by SPAL’s captain in the dying minutes of the match. Yes. Read that again, that is the storyline of this match. Still, you are probably asking yourself, “What just happened?”

Dazed and confused

As with recent games, Milan were attempting to settle in against a very scrappy and defensive SPAL side. Until former Milan youth player, Mattia Valoti scored from a corner in the 13th minute. 1-0 SPAL. More disturbingly, Castillejo was injured less than two minutes later and had to be subbed off for Saelemaekers. The young Belgian had just signed a contract until 2024 earlier in the day, with Milan having activated his buyout clause.

Calhanoglu and Paquetá were the major protagonists for Milan, but Letica either saved their shots, or they were sent wide. Right after a cooling break, from distance, Floccari let loose the perfect shot, which curled beautifully into the upper corner and out of Gigio’s reach. An extraordinary shot in a game that was anything but ordinary. 2-0 SPAL.

Forget a plus one, Rebic was usually followed by all the defenders

Calhanoglu actually scored a goal in the 37th, but it was called back for offside following a VAR review. Just after that, D’Alessandro fatefully tackled Theo Hernandez, or rather Hernandez’ leg, with his studs out, and that was enough for another VAR review and a red card for the SPAL player. SPAL were on ten men.

The second half was all about shots, subs, more shots, cards, and still more shots. Notably, Pioli sent on Leao, Laxalt, Ibrahimovic, and Bonaventura. Also notably, former Inter player and now SPAL manager, Di Biagio, got himself sent off… to the empty stands, just a few feet away from the technical area. That’s some punishment.

On a first name basis with Letica now

Leao got the breakthrough goal in the 79th due to a rare defensive blunder by SPAL, and it was 2-1 SPAL. Despite shots from practically every Milan player on the pitch, and maybe even some from the bench, I’m not sure, it took a Vicari own goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time to level the score to 2-2. When the whistle was blown, I think everyone was confused as to what had just transpired. SPAL’s bench were angry, with Dabo having been shown a yellow after he was subbed off.

Milan had to be angry, too, because we have played so much better than that. Blame the heat, blame the strange early goals, or whatever you want, but it felt like they were holding back for the bigger matches on the horizon. As fans, we have to hope they were holding something back, because what we saw tonight will not be enough against teams who maintain 11 players for the whole match or who actually attack. For the team that maintained 70% possession and took 39 shots, Milan have to actually finish more than one of their only nine shots on target.

The only Milan player to score tonight

This is not the worst thing to happen, it’s not even a step backwards, although it would have been nice to see a better performance. But the scoreline is frightening, especially clinging to seventh place by a thread and so desperately wanting Europe. Also frightening is Castillejo's injury. It was disappointing for fans, leaving us all to question, “What just happened?”

This post inspired by the music of The Smiths’ “Asleep”

Our next match is
Serie A Week 30
Lazio vs. Milan
Saturday, July 4 • 21:45 CEST (3:45pm EDT)

SPAL 2, Milan 2: What Just Happened? SPAL 2, Milan 2: What Just Happened? Reviewed by Elaine on 4:36 PM Rating: 5
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