Benevento 0, Milan 2: LeaOMGoal

Benevento are known as the "witches" or "sorcerers" in Italian. Yet it was Milan who bewitched and bewildered in a very physical, and at times frustrating match. Despite Pippo's side being up a man for two-thirds of the match, dominating in possession and hammering Gigio with 25 shots, Milan walked away with a clean sheet and all three points. But for me, the most magical moment was a spectacularly brilliant goal, something I call the LeaOMGoal.

Two shots on target

Brahim got things started in the third minute with a great shot from distance that just grazed the top of the crossbar. So unlucky. Kjaer taught Lapadula that this was not the same Milan he played at in the seventh with a bit of tough love, and then Leao missed a shot on an open net that was the definition of a sitter, but he was lucky enough that he was also offside.

Pasqua was rather inconsistent in giving his cards, but Benevento were very consistent in falling and rolling on the ground with every contact. While they complained at every non-call, Tuia colliding with Rebic in the box in the 13th minute with the grace of a bull in a china closet was judged to be a penalty, and so it was given. Kessie took it and converted it like only he can, 1-0 Milan.

Perfectly placed.

It is of note that amidst the barrage of Benevento shots, five of which were considered on target, Leao took a wild shot in the 20th that went over. Benevento continued to get none of the calls they asked for and complain vociferously about every single one of their asks. My only thinking is that there may be a correlation, and perhaps Pasqua considered their protests in his decision making.

Until Benevento did get the call. Tonali took a late, cheap, and dangerous kick at the inside of Ionita's knee in the 32nd minute. Pasqua immediately showed him the yellow, and then the VAR booth asked him to look at it again. After doing so, he returned to the pitch with a red for Tonali, sending him off and leaving Milan down to ten men for the last hour of the match. Ouch. Not only for this match, but for his suspension against Juventus on Wednesday.

Learning can be painful

Pioli thought quickly, then reacted by sacrificing Brahim to bring on Krunic to compensate for  Tonali's early exit in the 36th minute. By that time, Gigio was under siege, making save after save after amazing save. Even Inzaghi called him the best goalkeeper in Europe after Benevento could not score on him to save their lives. Letizia even injured himself trying to beat Gigio, and had to be subbed off before the half.

But it was in the 39th that I began to believe in magic. Rebic sent a ball forward, Montipó came out, but Leao controlled it, turned himself around, giving Montipó time to get into position, but Leao's incredible shot from an incredible angle, while he slid to the ground from the effort chipped over the experienced Glik, over Montipó, and neatly into the far side of the net. Absolutely breathtaking, no matter how many times I have watched it. 2-0 Milan. OMG, it was sublime, spectacular, and every other superlative you can think of.

Words don't do it justice

Benevento earned another big call in the 60th, a penalty was awarded when Krunic was judged to have taken down Caprari in the box. However, and maybe it was Karma for all of their diving and protesting, but Caprari sent it wide, and their gift was in vain. Speaking of in vain, Calhanoglu hit the post in the 72nd, and Kessie hit the post in the 84th, the ball bouncing across the entire face of the goal. As if there was some kind of force field across the face of the goal. Unbelievably unlucky.

This was not good football. At times, I'm not even convinced it was football at all. But Gigio is the best goalkeeper in Europe, Kessie is phenomenally cool under pressure and also a penalty wizard, and not even Tonali being sent off was as big as Leao's OMGoal. It's like this team is trying to lose and can't. As if they said, "What if we went down to ten men for 60 minutes against a scrappy team on the rise, could we lose then?" No. Not all of the injuries, not being on ten men, not being dominated by Benevento's 61% possession or twenty-five shots on goal with five on target against them. Milan scored with their only two shots on target, and Gigio earned his potential pay raise in this match alone for that clean sheet.

Best goalkeeper in the world

It was unbelievable that we pulled this one off. Not pretty by any means, but unbelievable. Tonali learned an important lesson about emulating Gattuso, Kessie showed why he's taking the penalties now, and Leao... there are really just no words, that was incredible. More incredibly, Milan survived a tough match while down so many important players and being disadvantaged numerically for 60 minutes. This team are playing as a team, and even when someone makes a mistake, someone else steps up to compensate. For me, the thing that keeps replaying on all of my devices and in my head is the LeaOMGoal.

This post inspired by the music of Cigarettes After Sex's "Sweet"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 16
Milan vs. Juventus
Wednesday, January 6 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Benevento 0, Milan 2: LeaOMGoal Benevento 0, Milan 2: LeaOMGoal Reviewed by Elaine on 5:07 AM Rating: 5
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