Milan 0, Napoli 1: Party Foul

Today was both Tomori and Kessié's birthdays. Approximately 55,000 fans came to their party at the San Siro, only to have the party spoiled by a defensive error that led to the goal and also a referee who confused wrestling with football. To read the reactions from fans online, Milan never showed up for the party, but actually, the game was pretty even, Napoli just didn't get their goal called back for a bizarre interpretation of a rule. Fans were also talking about how poorly Kessié played, but I also disagree with that assessment. In fact, the two birthday boys had great performances tonight, including some great tackles from Tomori and the goal that wasn't a goal from Kessié. Massa committed the ultimate party foul.

Party foul

Napoli came out swinging, and on their second corner kick within the first five minutes, Elmas found a weak spot in Milan's defense and headed the corner past Maignan. 1-0 Napoli. This clearly caught Milan off guard, and it took them another ten minutes or so to find their rhythm. Once they found it, they were much better, and Ibrahimović had a couple of chances back to back that went just wide. The pitch has been in notably poor condition, and Milan players were slipping and sliding throughout the match. Both Kessié and Florenzi had chances that went just wide before the half.

The Curva were ready to party

Ibrahimović kicked off the second half with a rocket that forced Ospina to tip it over, one of two shots on target for Milan in this one. Tomori had one of his several brilliant tackles on our old friend Petagna in the 51st, and Petagna also had one of Napoli's best chances of the second half just before being subbed off, but it went over the bar. Rrahmani had a great block on Ibrahimović in the 80th, who was also shut down a few minutes later by Ospina.

It was kind of like that

The party finally got started in the 90th minute when Kessié shot from distance straight past Ospina into the back of the net. The team was celebrating, even Pioli ran over to join them. Then shortly afterward, they learned that VAR would be looking at the play. The call was offside on Giroud, who was lying on his back and pinned down by Juan Jesus, who had knocked him over. The explanation given to Milan was that Massa cited a call that happened yesterday that was not even remotely similar, when Atalanta had a goal called back when they faced Roma. The offside rule applied here was that Giroud had interfered with Juan Jesus's ability to play the ball, but he actually did play the ball: straight to Castillejo. Plus, Juan Jesus knocking over Giroud and falling on top of him is what interfered with this play.

A fantastic performance that deserved more

Here is my problem with this, other than the fact that with this precedent, any defender could now knock someone over so their body is in the offside position and nullify any goal. Yes, Giroud had been involved in the buildup to the goal, but he was not offside when he did so. He was not at all involved in the play when he was felled and laid upon by Juan Jesus. Did Massa think that he was reffing wrestling and count being Giroud being pinned to the ground? That's a super bizarre interpretation to me. Some also cite that Kalulu's hand touched the ball when Juan Jesus attempted to clear the ball. However, I don't believe that would have been called had the decisions been made correctly.

You deserved that one, Presidente

I normally don't talk about referees, because I believe the decisions do even out over time. But that does not seem to be working out for us this year. This match was huge, not only for the birthday boys, but because both teams are contending for top four. If we are to miss out on anything by a point at the end of the season, this will be like the Gol di Muntari grudge that Milan fans still hold onto from 10 years ago. Tonight, it was nauseating to say the least, and while certainly the team could have done better, they had 49% possession and 12 shots to Napoli's 11 shots and also two on target. Massa and VAR literally made the difference, and that is a shame for all of football.

They absolutely deserved more

In addition to the fact that my American commentators could not tell Ballo-Touré from Tomori, an offside call from a foul or handball (although it was on the monitor,) and could not pronounce names to save their lives, they acted like Napoli was the only team with injuries. Yes, Napoli also had injuries, they played well, and were well-prepared for this match. But Milan were missing more players, more starters, and have consistently played with more injuries all season. Yet we still kept up. That is what hurts, is that Milan have been playing with an injury handicap for more than a year now, with over 100 more missed matches than Napoli or any other team in Serie A, and they don't get the recognition they deserve. Much like the birthday boys tonight, who absolutely deserved more than Massa's ridiculous party foul.

This post inspired by the music of The Smiths' "Unhappy Birthday"

Our next match is
Serie A Week 19
Empoli vs. Milan
Wednesday, December 22 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Milan 0, Napoli 1: Party Foul Milan 0, Napoli 1: Party Foul Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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