Atlético Madrid 0, AC Milan 1: No Apologies

After the treatment Milan has received in the Champions League this season, particularly in the first leg vs. Atlético Madrid at the San Siro, the expectations were low for this match. With Tomori and Rebić added to the injury list this past weekend, it seemed even less likely that we would be allowed to win this one. Although UEFA suspended the referee and VAR referee who changed the outcome of the first leg, the outcome stood and our chances of moving through to the next round were taken out of our hands. Sure, they were punished, but there were no apologies.

Messias won all three points, no apologies

The match started out with Koke fouling Theo Hernández hard in the first minute. Theo Hernández played for Atléti rivals Real Madrid, and Brahim is still owned by Real as well, so there was no love lost. Also not a lot of whistles. Unless your jersey said AC Milan on it. Giroud was booked for a foul on Koke in the 26th, but when Gimenez repeated a nearly identical foul on Brahim Díaz, there was no card.

In fact, both Koke and Gimenez could have had a collection of cards in any other match, but neither was ever booked tonight. Not when Gimenez intentionally kneed Giroud in the back, not when Koke committed hard foul after hard foul. Nor was Correa booked for dangerous play when he put a boot to Bakayoko's face, let alone when he dove in the final minutes of stoppage time and begged and pleaded for a penalty. Not this time, loser. Vincić may have let your team brutalize our players for 90 minutes, but he didn't want to get suspended

A complete mental 180° for Tatarusanu and a clean sheet to go with

Other than Simeone's henchmen trying to gain every advantage, Milan dominated possession and only allowed Atlético two shots on target the whole match. Tatarusanu was refreshingly solid after a a frightening performance on Saturday. Perhaps he realized how hard Maignan is training to come back as soon as possible and wants to make the most of the time he has left, but my hat goes off to him for being able to shake off that performance on the big stage. Also, that was only his second clean sheet of the season. While he should maybe take Kjaer and Romagnoli to dinner or something for being a wall in front of him, the Romanian goalkeeper deserves credit as well. 

Pioli took a gamble by resting Ibrahimović as long as he did and allowing Giroud to stay in the match with a both yellow card and a knee to the back, especially after having had a back injury earlier this season. The gamble failed when Giroud pulled up and had to be subbed off in the 66th, creating yet another injury. But to be fair, Pioli also made a genius substitution in bringing on Messias for Krunić just a minute earlier. Pioli's favorite Bosnian had been invisible in this match, offering next to nothing, and Messias had the magic of his Champions League debut going for him.

Ibrahimović understands what it means to come from nothing and score like this

That magic paid off in the 87th when Messias headed in a great cross from Kessié, with nothing Oblak could do to save it. 1-0 Milan. Such a beautiful moment for a player living his dream, and amazing for Milan, too, considering he gave us our first three points in the Champions League in seven years. Ibrahimović threatened multiple times, albeit offside at least once. He was also the first player to celebrate when Messias' header went in. Theo Hernández was carded for timewasting when he kicked a ball away in the 93rd, I'm thinking we should start keeping track of all of the stupid things he's done this season, because they are starting to add up fast. Maybe it could be like a swear jar, and he has to put money in every time he does something dumb?

The win put Milan in third place in the group on goal differential, putting us at risk of ending up in the Europa League. With the injuries we've had and continue to have, I feel like that is the worst possible scenario. Either we go through to the far more lucrative and challenging Round of 16 in the Champions League, or we just go back to Serie A and focus on winning it. At least those would be my two choices. 

Pioli believed, Messias proved him right

Milan would have been out of the competition had we drawn or lost, so we have Messias to thank for giving us some street cred. Also, it is always delicious to beat Atlético and that Interista Simeone and his slithering brutes, something Milan has never done in the Champions League until tonight. We came with our integrity, and left with all three points. No apologies.

This post inspired by the music of Nirvana's "All Apologies"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 14
Milan vs. Sassuolo
Sunday, November 28 • 15:00 CET (9am EST)

Atlético Madrid 0, AC Milan 1: No Apologies Atlético Madrid 0, AC Milan 1: No Apologies Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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