Milan 2, Venezia 0: Ugly Win

Milan desperately needed some player rotation for this match, and Pioli provided most of that rotation in the defense. But it took bringing on the big guns in attack to seal the deal, which they did with the beautiful football that we are growing accustomed to. For nearly 70 minutes, the game was not so pretty, but it also wasn't the worst I've ever seen. And well done to Venezia for putting up such a valiant fight. Unfortunately, it was a few "fans" who made this match turn ugly, when they shone lasers into Mäenpää's eyes as Milan were taking a free kick. After all of this time away from the stadium, you would think that they would just be happy to be back. But after having two of our players racially abused in our last two league matches, and Inter and Fiorentina fans brawling in the streets yesterday, the seedy underbelly of Serie A is back in all of its horror, making what should have been a great victory an ugly win.

Cowardly fans turn the beautiful game ugly

The first half saw many of our usual suspects take their chances, but without much accuracy. They must just be really focused on the fans being back in the stadium or something, because that is where many of their shots seemed to be directed. Serie A veteran and Venezia captain Molinaro defended well, as did Finnish keeper Mäenpää to keep the match goalless. In the 18th, Johnsen was making a run and was rather forcefully stopped by Gabbia, but Pezzuto did not make the call, and VAR did not intervene. I suppose Venezia might have felt robbed there, but then again, they were only able to take six shots all match with none of them being on target, and I do believe in earning your points.

Super Diez

In the 25th, Forte (which ironically means strong in Italian) would earn a yellow by making contact with his boot to Gabbia's face, not maliciously, but the same cannot be said for his many, many other fouls, which perhaps should have seen him sent off with a second yellow or three. Certainly, the mood was tense, as Maignan was heard yelling at his teammates in French after a Venezia corner in the 45th in which some of his words were not exactly meant for television. Peretz had one of the best chances for Venezia just after, from another Forte corner.

A goal and an assist, take a bow

The unsettling battle continued after the half, with plenty of fouls and off target chances. Romagnoli had a beautiful tackle on Thomas Henry, followed by a couple of unsuccessful efforts from Venezia. Then came the triple threat: Pioli subbed on Tomori, Theo Hernández, and Saelemaekers in the 59th to get the job done. Milan quickly took control and played their game again, no matter how nobly Venezia defended them. Then, in the 68th, Theo Hernández sent in the perfect cross for Brahim Díaz, who confidently slotted it past poor Mäenpää. 1-0 Milan. 

Pellegri's debut was mostly unremarkable, save for some dissent

Shortly thereafter, Pellegri made his debut, subbing on for a very tired Rebić. Ballo-Touré also debuted in the starting lineup, so we got to see more of him, too. The on-loan-from-Milan Caldara got a yellow for attempting to stop the unstoppable Saelemaekers, who put in one of his best performances ever for Milan tonight. Kessié came on to relieve a very tired Brahim Díaz, and just a few minutes later, Theo Hernández got his first goal of the season from an absolutely brilliant Saelemaekers cross. 2-0 Milan. 

Full of surprises

Honestly, I thought that Belgian kid was only made up of French rap music, bad dancing, and worse haircuts, but he really is coming into his own and thriving with both the players around him and Pioli's system. He forced a great save from Mäenpää in stoppage time with a twisting, turning rocket from the top of the box. Venezia tried a couple of last-ditch attempts, with Thomas Henry trying a sideways bicycle kick, and Aramu forcing Maignan to tip his shot just over the crossbar as well, but to no avail.

It was another performance that reinforced the grit, determination, and hard work that this team has put in for the past few seasons. Yet some idiot fans with lasers made it ugly. Mäenpää was shown on camera preparing for a Theo Hernández free kick in the 78th, and the Finnish keeper's face was covered with green lights, trying to distract him. I was really happy that he was able to save the attempt in spite of the horrible fans' actions. We are five games into the season, after a season and a half of ghostly, empty stadiums, and these idiots have to try to ruin it for everyone else.

Clearly the players love having fans back, why are the fans trying to get themselves banned?

This, following the street brawls in Florence yesterday, and the racial abuse from both Lazio fans and Juve fans toward our players make me wonder what kinds of fans these people think they are. Not only are they working toward personal legal charges and lifetime stadium bans, but also possible stadium bans and fines for their clubs, too. They ruin the beautiful game. There were tons of families at San Siro tonight, and hopefully, none of those kids were able to see the horrible and unsporting antics of some idiots who claim to be fans. But as Maignan mentioned when he addressed the racial abuse, these are not isolated incidents. In the case of racism, especially, it is a societal issue that is much bigger than football. But even stupid unsporting behaviors like laser lights can turn the beautiful game into an ugly win.

Why are these things still happening in 2021? (via @mmseize)

This post inspired by the music of Savages' "The Answer"

Our next match is 
Spezia vs. Milan
Saturday, September 25 • 15:00 CEST (9am EDT)

Milan 2, Venezia 0: Ugly Win Milan 2, Venezia 0: Ugly Win Reviewed by Elaine on 5:55 PM Rating: 5
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