Milan 3, Verona 2: Heart

The injuries going into this match were incredibly nerve wracking. Those nerves only intensified when Verona came out like a dog running rampant in a meat factory, and Milan showed... well, let's say less intensity than usual. Maybe it was because there was no visible crest over their hearts, but a bunch of watermarked ones instead. The first half was like watching a train wreck, but with your family on the train. But Pioli subbed on heart and soul in the second half, also known as Castillejo and Krunić. And together, they brought the team back together, and back from a two-nil deficit to actually win this one. Despite wearing kits that look like pajamas, they showed the world what it really means to play with heart.

Heroes wear... pajamas? Still questioning that third kit

It only took seven minutes for Milan to make errors that led to a goal from Caprari. 1-0 Verona. That was after their first of four yellow cards for Verona, compared to Milan's singular yellow. The fouls were brutal, too, with Milan being whistled for only 11, while Verona chalked up 20, and those were just the ones Prontera called. 

Yeah, it was kind of like that.

Two minutes later, Rebić put in a gorgeous cross, but Daniel Maldini's volley was too high. In the 21st, Kalinić wiled his way into a penalty. There was a fairly lengthy VAR check, but Prontera did not view it himself. He simply awarded the penalty based on the VAR ref's recommendatons, which Barák converted. 2-0 Verona. 

How many defenders does it take Verona to take the ball from Rebić?

This was a nightmare. At times, it seemed like Milan players were zombies, and Verona were taking full advantage of it. Rebić, who had been the man of the match thus far, had to be subbed off after less than 36 minutes, having crumpled in pain. (It is reported that he has an ankle sprain.) Leão came on, but wasn't able to change anything as things looked more and more dismal for the Rossoneri.

Rebić leaving the pitch with scratches on the back of his head

Enter Castillejo and Krunić. At first, I thought Pioli was throwing in the towel. Then I realized what he was doing. Both of those players are the hardest working players we have. Not the most talented, but they run like no one else. They have heart, which we had been missing. 

The goalscorer punishes Verona

Their hard work not only paid infinite dividends directly, but also distracted Verona, threw them off of their game, and allowed Milan to slowly regroup and play our game. That was rewarded in the 59th with a fantastic header by Giroud, with a gorgeous Leão cross.  2-1 Verona, and now Milan were back in it. 

In the 74th, Milan were awarded a penalty as Castillejo was taken down in the box. After the VAR check, the penalty stood, and Kessié stepped up, took it, and converted it, like he is known to do on occasion. 2-2 all. 

Dad would be so proud

The final goal had its roots in the 72nd, when Günter kicked Giroud in the head, but was not carded for dangerous play. (It is worth it to note here that this was Prontera's first Serie A match as a head ref.) Whether it was guilt, Karma, or just bad form, Günter ended up scoring an own goal from a Castillejo cross. 3-2 Milan. 

A Günter guilt goal? We'll take it.

Tomori was down injured late in the match when it looked like he may have twisted his knee, so let's hope that it is nothing serious. Ibrahimović got about 15 minutes, and the San Siro roared when he entered the pitch. He had a couple of shot attempts, including an attempted overhead bicycle kick in the 87th, but the score would finish 3-2.

The celebrations of a team with heart

We survived. We missed Maignan, but Tatarusanu only faced five shots on target, so we made it. Other than the concerns about new injuries to Rebić and Tomori, it was a hard fought battle for three points. At the center of it all, with an assist for the own goal and drawing the penalty, was Castillejo. At the end of the match, he burst into tears of joy, and his teammates all gave him some love, too. He proved that every player is important in a team, every player can be a hero at some point. Sometimes, football extends well beyond tactics or technique. Sometimes, it is just about heart.

This post inspired by the music of Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me"

Our next match is
Champions League Group Stage
FC Porto vs. AC Milan
Tuesday, October 19 • 21:00 CEST (3pm EDT)

Milan 3, Verona 2: Heart Milan 3, Verona 2: Heart Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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