FC Porto 1, AC Milan 0: After the Battle

There is always a bitter taste in the mouth after any loss. Too many Milan fans have turned to blaming the referees, especially after the match vs. Atlético when UEFA and the world agreed with them that they were robbed, and the head ref and VAR refs suspended. But it wasn't like that this time. While there were inconsistencies and errors in Brych's reffing, they were not as egregious. This time, Porto controlled the game and took 20 shots compared to Milan's four. But Milan fans also know that with three matches left in the Group Stage and zero points, our Champions League experience will almost undoubtedly end after the next three matches now. Decimated by injuries, and having such a bad night tonight, it always hurts worst after the battle.

Current mood

There isn't really a lot to say about this match. Pioli had some unusual choices, starting Ballo-Touré ahead of Kalulu as well as Krunić ahead of Maldini. I have yet to be impressed by anything Ballo-Touré has done for Milan, and Maldini was far more dynamic and impactful when he came on than Krunić was, who is still really recovering from his muscle injury, too. Also, Bakayoko. Other than being dispensable in case of injury or giving Tonali some rest, I can't justify him coming on at all. To his credit, he did not get sent off in the 30 minutes he played, so that was like a victory.

Porto came out fighting and never stopped. Luis Diaz hit the post in the fifth minute, and Teremi must have taken most of Porto's 20 shots. One of Milan's best chances was when Leão crossed it in to Giroud in the 19th and the veteran striker inexplicably headed it away instead of into an open net. There were too few other chances created, as we spent most of the match defending.

Trequartista he is not

The fouls were plenty, the whistles not so much, but Milan would earn a total of five yellow cards, which is going to come back and haunt us in our next three games. Porto missed out on some calls, as well, but complained more than they were wronged. For example, Giroud was shown a yellow in the 20th minute for a stomp, but Pepé was not given a card for a stomp on Bennacer in the 61st. Leão, too, was given a yellow for a stomp in the 89th. Go figure.

Kjaer and Tomori were epic, although Tomori got an early yellow for a foul on Evanilson, who had beaten him, and risked a second yellow another time or two as well. Pioli wisely brought Romagnoli on in the 57th, which was long enough that we had the protection of Tomori and his speed for as long as we could (especially that clearance in the 52nd!) but not long enough for him to lose his head and get sent off.

Missed chances and too few of them cost us the 3 points

Ibrahimović came on in the 57th, but unfortunately the biggest impression he made was on Mbembe's head, who was foolish enough to try to get in between Ibrahimović's boot and the ball, for which the Milan striker was carded for. He cannot help it if Mbembe underestimated his awesomeness. (Mbembe required bandaging and treatment for his underestimation.)

The big controversy was the Luis Diaz goal in the 65th, when it seemed to most people with eyesight that Bennacer was fouled in the buildup to the goal, which would have seen the goal called off. But no, 1-0 Porto. Brych did not pretend to know anything about it, and VAR did not seem to offer him any insights, either. Perhaps they didn't follow the whole Çakir/Bitigen suspension saga, but to be fair, this was a far less egregious error. Porto could have scored at any other time in the match, and Milan only had one shot on target. 

Not fully fit, but one man could never do it all, anyway

If you are looking for excuses, Milan's ridiculous injury list was far more impactful than that one call. Plus, Porto could have possibly had a penalty in the 80th when Kalulu fouled Jésus Corona in the box, yet Kalulu escaped with only a yellow. Whichever Brych/VAR error you cite, Porto would have won. Holding one referee or a team of referees to a standard of perfection when Milan had 11 players on the pitch for 90 minutes who had their worst game of the season with plenty of errors is simply unfair.

There was only one head ref, but 11 Milan players to be accountable

Unfair or not, injuries or referee calls or not, a loss always hurts. This one is certainly no different. We went into the dragons' lair and we lost. Painfully. Now it is up to our team to react on Saturday in the league, where at least we are still unbeaten. As for fans, what we do and say now, how we react, and whether or not we blame the referee says something about our club, too, especially after the battle.

This post inspired by the music of Garbage's "Empty"

Our next match is
Serie A Week 9
Bologna vs. Milan
Saturday, October 23 • 20:45 CEST (2:45 EDT)

FC Porto 1, AC Milan 0: After the Battle FC Porto 1, AC Milan 0: After the Battle Reviewed by Elaine on 3:59 PM Rating: 5
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