Milan 1, Empoli 0: Persistence

Milan dominated the first half and then hung on for the second half with persistent effort to win this one. Kalulu's early goal was enough to decide the match, although Maignan did have a couple of decisive saves. In the end, though, Milan refused to give up, refused to concede, and held on for all three points. Sure, Inter still have the pesky game in hand, but Milan assured themselves top of the table once again, going five points clear ahead of Inter's match with Torino tomorrow. It's all about persistence.

The Right Back-turned Center Back-turned Hero

The first ten minutes, Andreazzoli's side pressed the left side, clearly taking advantage of Theo Hernández's absence. What they didn't realize was that Florenzi has more confidence than talent, although he's got a bit of that, too, and when pressed, feels the need to step up his game. In fact, he took the first shot of the match, forcing a Vicario save. Milan gradually took control and would dominate much of the rest of the first half, forcing Empoli to defend.

Empoli could not defend Kalulu's shot from distance when he took a rebound from a Giroud free kick in the 19th. The young center back's sheer audacity to take the left-footed shot from that far out made it 1-0 Milan. Florenzi kept up his personal pretense that he was the slower, less accurate version of Theo Hernàndez, and poor Tonali got sick about the 30th minute and needed a bit of treatment.

Heroic saves

In the 34th minute, Leão would test the parameters of Chiffi's refereeing, with a high boot that collided with Asllani's face. No card. Most referees would have given a yellow for that, for dangerous play, but Chiffi was incredibly stingy with his cards for the entire match, missing many opportunities to caution players who behaved badly. Oh well, at least he did not change the outcome of the match.

The second half started out quite differently, with Luperto's amazing header forcing an even more amazing Maignan save. Maignan had two more saves in quick succession shortly thereafter, and was on high alert for the rest of the half. Calabria was a bit dazed and confused after a bit of a head injury in the 60th minute, but later seemed to have shaken it off. 

Current mood

The Milan fans applauded for Cutrone ahead of the match when his name was read out, but not even him subbing on was enough for Empoli. Andreazzoli used all five of his subs within eight minutes, like a sort of fresh leg battering ram, but it still was not enough to break Milan down. Tonali finally did figure out that Chiffi did, in fact, have a yellow card in his pocket by channeling his inner Gattuso in the 94th minute and receiving the only caution of the match. But Milan held on for all three points.

Kalulu's goal was great, and the first half was fine, but the second half was definitely not pretty. The result was all we needed, however. Just like all of the matches this season where we lost or drew because of wrong referee decisions, the result is the only thing that will stay in the books. The tense, frustrating play of that second half will fade from our memories soon enough. Besides, the race to the top four is all about persistence.

This post inspired by the music of Outkast's "Hey Ya!"

Our next match is
Cagliari vs. Milan
Saturday, March 19 • 20:45 CET (3:45pm EST)*
*note the time difference due to Daylight Savings Time in the U.S.

Milan 1, Empoli 0: Persistence Milan 1, Empoli 0: Persistence Reviewed by Elaine on 3:00 PM Rating: 5
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