Empoli 2, Milan 4: In the Christmas Mood

Milan clearly wanted to give their fans a Christmas gift after some poor results, bad luck, and a plague of injuries. Empoli wanted to continue their streak of beating the big teams, and at first, it seemed like they just might get their wish. But Kessié, having been much maligned in the media and on social media for not having renewed his contract, as well as having had a goal stolen from him on Sunday, had other plans. As did Florenzi, who had not yet scored for Milan, and Theo Hernández, who was just coming back from the flu. Bakayoko got confused as usual, and gifted a goal to Empoli, but at the end of regulation, Milan fans were in the Christmas mood.

Tonali accepts a festive gift from the Curva

Both sides started out looking dangerous, and Maignan met our beloved ex, Cutrone in the 11th minute, but did not care if he was Milan nel cuore. He was not giving him a sympathy goal just because Milan had pushed Cutrone out. Then in the 12th, since Giroud was not being pinned down by a defender, he successfully sent the ball to Kessié in the center of the box, who slotted it past Vicario. 1-0 Milan. I was thrilled for him, because it felt very deserved after Sunday's referee robbery. Also because there was a lot of negative speculation about him being played as a trequartista, and he showed in less than 15 minutes that he was more than capable.

Il Presidente is not going to miss from there.

The downside of him playing more forward is that he used to be crucial to our defensive play. With Kjaer out, we kind of need Kessié at his best in that more defensive role. So it was a shame that he was not positioned well six minutes later and could not stop Bajrami's shot, which Maignan couldn't even see in traffic. 1-1 all. To be fair, it's not like anyone else in the defense was well positioned. But Kessié cannot be everywhere.

A brace for Kessié and three points for Milan

Both sides traded shots, with Empoli looking plenty dangerous, especially in the 37th. Pinamonti broke free and was basically one on one with Maignan, who got his hand out to deflect his shot across the open goal, a heart-stopping save. Tonali saw yellow for fouling his Italy U21 teammate, Cutrone. Then Kessié did it again, this time set up by Saelemaekers. He found a very tight angle and sent it screaming past Vicario. 2-1 Milan. The traveling members of the Curva Sud, all wearing Santa hats, suddenly had no problems with Kessié now.

The little engine that could

One of Empoli's most dangerous chances was in the 47th, when Bejrami hit the crossbar, and Tonali was able to block Pinamonti's rebound. The fearless Maignan seems to be back, as evidenced by a great save where he jumped into the air and also fearlessly into his opponent. One of the more touching moments was when Florenzi scored a fantastic free kick in the 64th. He has been so supportive of his teammates, and they were all so happy for him. 3-1 Milan. Another sweet moment was when Krunić was about to sub on, he hugged his former manager, Andreazzoli. Both he and Bennacer had come from Empoli, but hugging the opposition coach like that is just not something you see every day.

If his Nonna were there, I'm sure he would have hugged her

As mentioned in the preview, this Empoli side are no typical newly promoted side. Andreazzoli has them playing some fantastic football, and they have beaten Juventus, Napoli, Fiorentina, and Sassuolo. They never gave up and fought to the final whistle. But Milan fought, too, and in the 69th, Saelemaekers, who played out of his mind in this match, sent it to Theo Hernández, who scored despite just recovering from the flu. 4-1 Milan.

What Pioli did not seem to anticipate with his substitutions was that Bakayoko is such a generous person, always giving things away. (I realized during this match that "Bakayoko" must mean "liability" in French.) So in the 82nd, in the spirit of Christmas, he gave up an obvious handball that Di Bello, after a VAR review, had to give Empoli a penalty for. Pinamonti converted the penalty to make it 4-2 Milan.

Sunday, he had a fever, tonight, he scored a goal

The final play was a fantastic Romagnoli (Alessio, not Simone) shot that Vicario had to tip over. It would have been the bow on the gift of three points that our team gave us this year, but let's not be greedy. This match was full of action, with both goalkeepers staying plenty busy. Empoli took 16 shots with five on target, and Milan were far more clinical than they have been recently, with 18 shots and eight on target. 

700 happy Santas

With everything this team has been through lately, this winter break could not come at a better time. We have until January sixth to recover some players and regroup and resume our battle for top four. We finish the first half of the season in second place, with 42 points, four points behind Inter. Obviously, as fans, we always want more, but this is pretty amazing considering all of the injuries and bad luck we have had this season. Now the players can go home happy, in the Christmas mood.

This post inspired by the music of Glenn Miller and His Orchestra's "In the Christmas Mood"

Empoli 2, Milan 4: In the Christmas Mood Empoli 2, Milan 4: In the Christmas Mood Reviewed by Elaine on 11:41 PM Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.