Milan 3, Roma 3: A Tragedy of Errors

The phrase "a comedy of errors" implies that there is some kind of humor to be found amongst travesty. However, set against the backdrop of Gigio Donnarumma, Hauge, and three staff members all testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of the match, and new restrictions removing all fans from the stadium, the stage was certainly set for a tragedy, not a comedy. And the match did not disappoint. Between the errors of our new backup keeper, and a referee who lost control of the match after having made a number of blatant errors, the 3-3 draw was not representative of the performances of both teams. No one was left laughing, it was a tragedy of errors.

Saving €.8 million per year has already cost us 2 points

The match had a dream start when less than two minutes in, Leao sent a perfect cross into Ibrahimovic, who with a classic reaching high kick magnificently flicked it in and past Mirante. 1-0 Milan. The warning signs were all there when Dzeko had a chance at the other end in the 9th minute, and Tatarusanu managed himself poorly, but our defense managed to shut down that opportunity. Five minutes later, we were not so lucky, as our new backup keeper attempted to punch a ball from a corner clear and instead punched it straight to Dzeko, who did not miss this gift. 1-1 all. 

These goalkeeping errors highlighted a point I attempted to make in early September, when Milan were looking for a new backup keeper. We had a fantastic and experienced backup keeper in Begović, who was willing to cut his wages in half to come back to Milan, a steal at a reported €2 million a year. Instead, the club chose to pay €500.000 for Tatarusanu, who is now paid €1.2 million per year. So the club spent the transfer fee and saved €.8 million per year for Tatarusanu, who made his Milan debut by conceding a goal within 10 minutes in a friendly against a Lega Pro side. He then went on to play two matches with Romania during this last international break, conceding a total of five goals in two matches versus Norway and Austria, but managing to stop his new teammate Hauge's one shot on target. As a point of reference, when Abbiati was our starting keeper, his salary was €1 million per year, and he was a better keeper than Antonio Donnarumma and Tatarusanu put together.

A delightful early goal

The writing was on the wall, but tonight, the error of the club was exposed more clearly than Tatarusanu's myriad errors. He is not a horrible keeper, but he is closer to Antonio Donnarumma's level, who is severely overpaid at €1 million per year, than the level of Gigio Donnarumma. Meanwhile, in the English Championship, Begović was awarded his second Man of the Match title of the season yesterday. We had a steal of a deal with Begović, a goalkeeper of his quality and experience, for only slightly more than we paid for a more obscure and less talented or experienced 6'6" (1.98m) goalkeeper in Tatarusanu. This position is often overlooked by fans and clubs alike, but when anything happens to a first keeper, they are more likely to cause dropped points than players at any other position, and it is always well worth investing in a good backup.

Back to the match, Milan had a few really great chances from Theo Hernandez, then Romagnoli, and Kjaer's header even hit the post. Roma answered back with a few weak attempts, then Calhanoglu sent a powerful free kick in, only to see Roma's first goalkeeper, Mirante, save it. Again, highlighting the need for the best at this position, a recurring theme on this night. Not even being trained by Milan's legendary Dida can help a goalkeeper when you cut corners on talent and cost.

Brilliant goal, brilliant assist

Milan were determined to control their own destiny, and so the second half started almost identically to the first, with another goal just two minutes in, this time from Saelemeakers, with another exquisite Leao assist. 2-1 Milan. Taking nothing away from the goal, which was also phenomenal, Leao is just beauty in motion. He understands the game so well, is always looking for that glimmer of an opportunity, and has the talent to make it happen in the most magical of ways. Roma came back and had a few opportunities, and to his credit, Tatarusanu made a save or two. 

Then all hell broke loose. After Tatarusanu made probably his best save of the match on Mkhitaryan, Pedro fouled Bennacer in the Milan box, literally stepping on his foot, and Giacomelli called a penalty for Roma. No one else with eyes in their head agreed with the call, but VAR also failed to intervene. Looking forward to whatever half-assed explanation we get from the AIA about this glaring error and VAR failure this time. Leao received a yellow, apparently for dissent, in the midst of this madness, and then Veretout stepped up and converted the penalty to make it 2-2 all. As a side note, Tatarusanu's specialty is supposed to be saving penalties. Just not this one.

Always perfect

In the 75th, Ibrahimovic was given a yellow card for getting fouled. Somewhere in there, someone from the Milan staff was also sent off. This was not Giacomelli's night, which actually made him the focal point of the rest of the match. He handed Pedro a yellow card and then awarded a penalty to Milan which was also definitely not a penalty, but Ibrahimovic converted it anyway to make it 3-2 Milan. The final goal was also a tragedy of errors, after Ibrahimovic failed to clear a corner, and the entire rest of our team behind him also failed, allowing Kumbulla to score uncontested. 3-3 all. 

Kessie would have a point blank powerful header miraculously saved by Mirante, and Romagnoli's header would go tragically wide in the sixth minute of a four minute stoppage time (extended by further stoppages within that time.) Certainly Milan had opportunities to put the game to rest, but the atrocious refereeing was a special kind of distraction, the lack of fans weighed heavy on our players, the rain helped no one, and ultimately our own naive goalkeeping errors cost us the win.

Regrets for the result, not the performance

The draw was not a defeat. Given the packed schedule and the way Roma have been both lucky and playing above their capabilities, perhaps the draw was lucky in a weird way. Both teams had a comparable amount of shots as well as shots on target, but Milan's chances were far better and more skilled, but then again, so was their goalkeeper. It is difficult not to feel unlucky after one weak link spoiled our chance to take all of the spoils. Literally, without Tatarusanu's costly assist on Dzeko's goal, Milan would have won this one in spite of Giacomelli. 

In the end, it was a tragedy of errors. Starting with one management decision in September, a poor goalkeeping performance on this night, and a referee performance that was more frightening than the upcoming Halloween holiday. But at least Milan are still unbeaten, extending our streak to 22 matches. Our last loss was ironically when Begović conceded two goals to Genoa in that eerie match just ahead of the lockdown. Playing in this COVID-19 positive environment in and of itself is a tragedy of errors.

This post inspired by the music of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts"

Our next match is 
Europa League Group Stage
AC Milan vs. Sparta Prague
Thursday, October 30 • 18:55 CET (1:55pm EDT)*

*Note the time difference due to the end of European Daylight Savings Time

Milan 3, Roma 3: A Tragedy of Errors Milan 3, Roma 3: A Tragedy of Errors Reviewed by Elaine on 8:45 PM Rating: 5
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