Milan 4, Cagliari 1: What Dreams Are Made Of

Milan fans have suffered long and hard, waiting and "rebuilding" over and over again, year after year, yearning for the days in which Milan was respected and feared, and the San Siro was a fortress. With the return of the fans to the stadium after 546 days apart, this team did not disappoint. Not just for the four goals, all scored in the first half, but for the beautiful plays, the dazzling skills on display, and the unity and teamwork throughout the match. This return to the San Siro was what dreams are made of.

A dream come true for players and fans

Milan exploded with the energy from the fans, with Giroud sending a header just over not even two minutes in, and a  great chance from Leão in the 9th minute that was shut down with a great tackle from Carboni. Saelemaekers' chance was cleared by Godín, and Milan were awarded a free kick. Tonali took it and curled it in perfectly in the 12th minute, 1-0 Milan. A gift to the fans, who had sung for him to thank him for reducing his salary to stay at Milan ahead of the match. His idol, Gattuso, was on hand to watch, as well, but with a kick like that, I hope that people are beginning to see that Tonali is not like anyone else, he is the new Tonali.

Tonali fulfilling all of the promises

Unfortunately, with such an intense and back and forth game, Cagliari scored a goal at the other end in the 15th minute, a header by Deiola that was perfectly set up by João Pedro. 1-1 all. Milan didn't even blink before Leão took a powerful shot in the 17th. Technically, Brahim Díaz deflected it in, but the goal was given to Leão because the shot was on target without the deflection. 2-1 Milan.

Leao in his natural habitat is exquisite to watch

Giroud did not come to Milan to just offer crosses to Leão or watch his teammates score, so in the 24th, he opened his official goalscoring account with a powerful shot, 3-1 Milan. In the 28th, Milan were looking for a handball call, but the referee, Serra, allowed play to continue. I assume that there was a silent VAR check, but within that minute or so of end to end action, Tomori had a shot saved by Cagliari's second keeper, Radunović. Not that Milan needed the penalty call, either.

Theo showed his mad skills in the 34th with a 360° spin to ward off a defender, this team is definitely so entertaining to watch now. Pavoletti had a shot wide at the other end, and a Leão cross saw Saelemaekers send a header over. In the 40th minute, Brahim Díaz took a shot that was deflected by Strootman's arm. In addition to the yellow card, Strootman saw VAR check his positioning at the time of the handball, and it was judged to have been on the line or just inside, so Milan got the penalty after all. Without Ibrahimović or Kessié on the pitch, it was a mystery as to who would take it, but Giroud gave us the answer with a well-taken penalty to make it 4-1 Milan.

Giroud on target in the run of play or from the spot

According to OptaPaolo, not since November of 2011 have Milan scored four goals in the first half of the match. That was enough to secure a resounding win, too, as the second half was goalless. Not that it was easy. Specifically, Godín had an excellent performance for Cagliari, and their other players did their best, too. But this Milan, at home, with our fans, were unstoppable.

Pioli subbed on Rebić, Bennacer, and Florenzi in the 68th. Brahim Díaz got a rather silly yellow in the 73rd trying to stop João Pedro. Tomori had his shirt ripped by Pavoletti in the 75th, the match was certainly not friendly. Maignan had a great save on a free kick in the 79th that was so close, Goal Line Technology (GLT) was used to make sure the ball hadn't crossed the line. Cagliari were looking a little dangerous, and Maignan had a great save when he parried Marin's shot in the 83rd. 

Goals, fans, and the win... it all felt just like this

Pioli brought Daniel Maldini on for Brahim Díaz in the 85th to give him a few minutes, hopefully shades of things to come. Putting the heavy expectations from the name on the back of his shirt aside, he is reportedly very, very talented, and could possibly be Brahim Díaz's backup if we do not sign another player for that spot. Rebić had a great shot that went just over in the 87th minute. Although he hasn't been starting, he is another talented and experienced weapon we have from the bench. Lastly, with only a minute left, Pioli brought Castillejo on for Giroud. This may have seemed silly, but it served two purposes. First, to give Giroud a chance to be acknowledged for his brace, which was deserved.

Secondly, it gave Castillejo a moment to be acknowledged by the fans, or possibly say goodbye, if he does leave in the next couple of days. Fans online had abused him so much, he had deactivated his Twitter account. While the Curva had come to Milanello on Saturday to support the team in training, they also raised banners against Donnarumma, even threatening him should he make an appearance in Milano. This, after four years of abusing him in person and online, which may have been a factor in his departure. So I was pleasantly surprised for the support they gave to Castillejo ahead of the match by singing to him after he had been abused online, and this substitution was another moment for them to support him, either way.

The team wore #WelcomeBack shirts to mark the occasion, and it worked

Obviously, no match is ever perfect. Ask any player and they could tell you where they went wrong and where they could improve individually and as a team. However, this was delightful and entertaining football, like a feast after the famine. Also impressive that it was such a strong home performance, after struggling so much at the San Siro last season. Even if Milan are not at all favorites in the Champions League group stage, this performance allowed fans to dream again. This match was what dreams are made of.

This post inspired by the music of The Cranberries' "Dreams"

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Milan 4, Cagliari 1: What Dreams Are Made Of Milan 4, Cagliari 1: What Dreams Are Made Of Reviewed by Elaine on 11:46 PM Rating: 5
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