Spezia 1, Milan 2: History

From the moment the lineups came out, we knew this match would go into the history books. Daniel Maldini starting for Milan meant that this was the first time in Serie A that three generations were starters in the league. Not to mention that all three have now played for the same club. Exactly 4500 days after Paolo Maldini's last match, Daniel was in the starting lineup. Then he scored. There are just no words as to what this means as a Milan fan. Watching his father celebrate in the stands was emotional for so many more people than just him. But this game was more than just the Maldini dynasty continuing, Milan also managed to turn their backs on a piece of history last February, when they inexplicably lost 2-0 to Spezia at this same stadium, the game that knocked us off our season-long perch at the top of the table and sent us spiraling downward mentally and on the table. Clearing out the ghosts, taking all three points, and even going top of the table, at least temporarily, was a win-win-win. All of which made this match not just any game, but also history.


Historic start


The first half was filled with missed opportunities, including one for the youngest Maldini in the 10th minute that Zoet punched to safety. Maignan had some work to do as well, and there were injury scares, a bloody nose, and plenty of fouls. Theo Hernández put in a nice curling free kick in the 27th that curved just short of the near post, while a Rebić header from a Tonali corner ten minutes later was also off target. Spezia's biggest scare of the first half came in the final minute, with two Aquilotti players dangerously close to goal, but Maignan and our defense managed to clean up the mess. Giroud had no space and did not seem match fit yet, and Rebić also seemed a little tired from carrying the team on his shoulders, so after the half, Pioli went younger.


Gamechanger.

Pellegri and Leão came on, and Leão especially was both relentless and absolutely delightful to watch. In the 48th, he sent the ball to Kalulu, who crossed it into Daniel Maldini, who headed it home. 1-0 Milan. The joy worldwide was palpable. Not only had he broken the deadlock after nearly 50 tense minutes, but he was a Maldini. Scoring for Milan. This was history.


Where were you when this happened?

Shortly after that, Leão had a shot rebound off the inside of the post, I am not sure if he did something to anger the gods of football, but of the 18 shots Milan took, with five on target, I think most of those were his. Daniel Maldini followed up his goal with a yellow card for blatantly pulling Bourabia's shirt, and Pioli subbed him off shortly thereafter. 

Spezia's captain, Maggiori, sent a Bastoni cross well over the goal from point blank range in the 59th. Leão kept taking shots, including one that Zoet almost lost control of. Calabria came on for the mighty Kalulu, who had been brilliant again, but in the 80th, a Daniele Verde shot was deflected in by poor Tomori, 1-1 all. Mercifully for Tomori, the league still gave the goal to Verde, but now Milan really had to step it up in the final ten minutes.

DIEZ

Pioli sent Brahim Díaz came on for Kessié in the 83rd minute, and Leão was still pummeling Spezia's defense. Then in the 87th, Saelemaekers, who had seemed a bit lost for much of this match, suddenly focused to send a great cross in to Brahim Díaz, who slotted it home. 2-1 Milan. Daniel Maldini's shirt pull was not the only one, because as our number 10 tried to rip his shirt off in celebration, Calabria pulled it back down so that he did not get a yellow card. Great leadership from our young Senatore, and yet hilarious to watch, too.


Calabria reining in the celebrations

Theo Hernández got a yellow in the 90th minute, each team took their parting shots, and the final whistle blew. 2-1 Milan. History was made. Demons were conquered. Three points were gained, and we remain undefeated in the league. Napoli will likely take their spot back on Sunday, but for this moment, all was well. The mentality shown to come back after conceding only our third goal of the season was also palpable, and that belief is feeding the hopes and dreams of Milan fans new and old, signs that Milan truly is back. That the Maldini dynasty is continuing only makes it that much sweeter.


Continuing the legacy in style

The unfortunate thing we risk now is that there may be undue pressure placed on the young Maldini now, as well as upon this young Milan side. Daniel only turns 20 in a couple of weeks, and he will need time to grow. Milan led the league for over half of last season, and almost didn't qualify for the Champions League. Patience will still be needed, and there are still so many games to be played. But this match will go down as so much more than just three points against a fiery Spezia side. For all of the reasons, this one will go down in history.


This post inspired by the music of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You"


Our next match is
Champions League Group Stage
AC Milan vs. Atlético Madrid
Tuesday, September 28 • 21:00 CEST (3pm EDT)

Spezia 1, Milan 2: History Spezia 1, Milan 2: History Reviewed by Elaine on 11:55 PM Rating: 5
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