Milan 0 (5), Torino 0 (4): Prolonging the Inevitable

While I always want to see my team win, this match was just ridiculous. Playing 120 minutes of football plus penalties midweek to stay in a competition with very little prestige or monetary value when our team are young and injury-plagued was foolish, in my opinion, particularly for putting our other competitions at risk due to fatigue or injury. That it dragged out to penalties was very unfortunate, although at least there seemed to be no new injuries for Milan. Even though beating Giampaolo twice in four days was delicious, as well as a wonderful birthday present for our captain, the extra time and penalties was simply prolonging the inevitable.

All is well that ends... finally

Despite almost equal possession throughout the match, Milan had as many shots on target as Torino had shots at all, with 23 shots and nine on target. Torino were unlucky to lose Vojvoda and Zaza to injuries, whereas for the first time in many games, it appears that Milan sustained no new injuries (still awaiting the report as of this writing.) Torino also had a staff member sent off for dissent, but Milan lost Gigio Donnarumma to a second yellow for dissent, which could be very costly in the Quarterfinals against the winner of Fiorentina and Inter.

I make it a point to not follow the people on social media who stir up hate for or against Milan or other teams, but the penalty accusations against Milan right now are well-known and the media have had their say as well. For the record, Milan had two very strong penalty appeals in this match, and neither of them were given. Haters 2, Milan 0. But Milan still won. The first appeal was in the 24th minute, when Brahim received the ball in the box and was subsequently bowled over from behind by Segre. That is a penalty on any other day with any other ref, and especially if VAR were used, but not for Valeri, and not on this day. Credit to Brahim for jumping back up and playing like a man.

Playing with heart, calls or no calls

The second was a trickier call, in which Valeri had plenty of time to card Gigio Donnarumma twice for whatever his booming voice yelled from the bench, but no time whatsoever apparently to review the play with VAR. While there are rules protecting goalkeepers, in this instance, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic made two errors. The first was allowing Leao to get to the ball, which he did, and is one of the reasons it should have been a penalty. The second was going down and using his entire body to shield Leao from a clear goalscoring opportunity. The really bad acting and grabbing his face after Leao not so subtly hit him on the back of the head was also poor on his part, but was also his saving grace in this instance, as Valeri wrongfully did not give the penalty due to said faking. When in doubt, grab your face, it's football for cheaters 101. Or perhaps he was just hiding his face for making such egregious errors?

Celebrate the wins, forget the non-calls

Despite the fact that either or both of these calls would have saved our team 30 minutes of extra time and the stress of the penalty shootout, I actually don't believe in blaming refs for results. It is unfortunate when blatant errors occur, more unfortunate when VAR is available and used so inconsistently, but it is a human part of the game that I accept. Milan had nine shots on target that could have decided the game, but did not. That is what I prefer to focus on.

Ibrahimovic flying high again

I felt that Pioli outclassed Giampaolo once again with his lineups and subs. In a 90 minute match, Pioli would have gotten a near perfect score from me, starting players who needed time, then bringing in the big guns after some rest to try to seal the deal. Torino certainly played better in this match than on Saturday, which tells me that, in spite of having a manager who is lost in his "ideas" and "tactics," the Torino players at least know how to make improvements.

Other than Gigio Donnarumma finally showing his age by opening his mouth, a situation in which we learn why he is usually on the pitch and not on the bench, we saw how well players adjusted to the subs, moving around as needed. Calabria did well enough in the midfield again, and in fact had three of our nine shots on target, for example. It was great to see Kalulu start at his natural right back spot, but seamlessly switch to center back as needed. We saw Olzer make his first team debut in extra time after Brahim was just wiped out, and Ibrahimovic got a much needed 45 minutes in his legs. If I were Cagliari, I would be afraid. Musacchio got a solid hour after not playing for almost a year, we will see if that improves his attitude about the transfer market or not.

Penalty hero

Tatarusanu became a hero, despite a couple of shaky saves within the match, when he got fingers to Lyanco's penalty and then saved Rincon's penalty to give Milan the win. That is great for his confidence, especially since we know that he will definitely be playing in the Quarterfinal in a couple of weeks. The penalty shootout was nerve-wracking as always, but after the Rio Ave shootout in the Europa League, I knew Milan would come through for me. The penalty that impressed me most was Tonali's, who sent it perfectly into the top left corner. Particularly for such a young player, that was an amazing penalty.

Romagnoli celebrating his birthday in the air

Milan continue to play as a team, and when one player is weaker or makes errors, there are plenty of other players to compensate. They celebrated after the shootout as if they had accomplished something amazing. For me, getting the the Quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia is not the achievement, nor was beating Giampaolo again. For me, they were celebrating the amazing heart and spirit that drives this team to victory, time and time again, against all odds. That is something worth celebrating, even if this match was a case of prolonging the inevitable.

This post inspired by the music of The Kinks' "Tired of Waiting for You"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 18
Cagliari vs. Milan
Monday, January 18 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Milan 0 (5), Torino 0 (4): Prolonging the Inevitable Milan 0 (5), Torino 0 (4): Prolonging the Inevitable Reviewed by Elaine on 11:52 PM Rating: 5
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