Sampdoria 1, Milan 2: Brutal Win

Milan finally won a match away, but it was a very costly win. Thanks to some controversial refereeing by Fabbri as well as some assistance from Abisso in the VAR booth, the match was far closer than the skill levels which were demonstrated by both teams, especially with Milan playing on 10 men for 45 minutes. That also means we have more tired legs, which does not bode well for our midweek Champions League match. Worst of all, Leão will be suspended for the Napoli match next week, further compounding an attack riddled with injuries right now. So while it was a tremendous relief to bring all three points home from Genoa, this one was definitely a brutal win.

A win, but at what cost? 

Milan came out firing on all cylinders as De Ketelaere sent the ball forward for Leão, despite being in traffic, but Leão's shot was blocked. Just three minutes later, however, in a beautiful play that saw our entire attack involved, Giroud sent it to De Ketelaere, who sent it to Leão, who sent it to Messias, who nutmegged Audero and sent it into the back of the net to open the scoring. 1-0 Milan. 

Things started getting ugly right away as Messias reacted to a strong Murillo tackle, and Calabria took an elbow to the face in the box and needed treatment. Sampdoria's best legal shot of the night came just five minutes later when Djuričić's audacious shot hit the crossbar. Leão had a Ferrari problem tonight, and the problem for him began in the 13th when he shoved the Italian in the back. Gratefully, he was not carded for that, but he would not be so lucky later.

At least Messias enjoyed the win

In fact, less than five minutes later, he pushed off of Ferrari's face with his elbow (pretty sure it was intentional,) and Fabbri gave him the first yellow card of the match. Then Fabbri actually dropped his cards, with an amused Kjaer handing them back to him. Really, this was a perfect analogy for how Fabbri also would kind of lose control of this match. But the real controversy happened in the 21st, when Leão's would-be second assist helped De Ketelaere score his first Milan goal... only for VAR to call it back after a very long three minute wait. (Here comes rant number one...)

Literally, how is this an advantage? Or even worth a 3 minute review?

When Tonali sent the ball forward, Giroud's armpit was a few centimeters in front of Ferrari's armpit, and Giroud made an attempt to play the ball, which did, in fact, make him offside in a world where time stands still and hairs are split. Ferrari successfully cleared that ball without actually being impeded, something called "deliberate play," which resets the offside. Leão then gained possession of the ball after Ferrari's deliberate play, sent it in to De Ketelaere, who sent it past Audero with his shoulder, a goal that should have stood.

De Ketelaere deserved his goal

However, Abisso was in the VAR booth and notified Fabbri of a review. This was not what VAR is supposed to be used for. Milan did not gain any advantage from Giroud's armpit being centimeters in front of Ferrari's. Their advantage was just being a much better team. So after icing the players for three long minutes for them to measure the centimeters and draw the lines under the armpits, Fabbri looked at their maths and called De Ketelaere's goal back. I get if there was a foul or something that really gave Milan an advantage, then great, go back and call it off. But this was just absurd. Also, Serie A were supposed to be more lenient about offside calls that were so tight this season. I guess Fabbri did not get that memo.

The rest of the first half continued to be very physical. Fabbri did not call everything, which should have pointed to things to come, and definitely helped to build frustrations on both sides. Milan continued to take shots, with the occasional Sampdoria attempt, as well.

Leão had a Ferrari problem, that man was everywhere

My second rant begins with an event in the 46th minute. Leão attempted an overhead bicycle kick, missed the ball, and his shin connected with Ferrari's head, who was behind him and leaned into the kick, with the advantage of seeing what was in front of him, unlike Leão, who does not have eyes in the back of his head (at least to my knowledge.) According to the Laws of the Game, this is dangerous play, and warranted a yellow card which was Leão's second, which meant a red card. Milan were down to ten men.

Fabbri dropped his cards, did not keep control of the match, and made some poor calls

I get that Ferrari was injured. He was bleeding through the bandages for the rest of the match. But consider this:

If Leão had connected with the ball and scored that goal, would it have been dangerous play? No.

If Leão had missed the ball but NOT connected with another player, would he have been carded? No.

If you're dumb enough to jump into a kick from behind a player, you deserve a head wound... and a card

Leão was carded because Ferrari stuck his head in the path of Leão's kick, something he could see and potentially avoid, whereas Leão could not have known where Ferrari was, because he was behind him. This rule needs to change. It is the equivalent of being at fault for someone rear-ending you in your car when they were not paying attention. Players should be allowed to attempt overhead bicycle kicks and other athletic volleys where they may not see behind them. Defenders can be held responsible for their actions if they can see and the other player has their back to them. (Rant over.)

Maignan had some massive saves

Ironically, Ferrari was given a yellow card of his own not ten minutes later. Then Sampdoria equalized in the 57th with a goal from Djuričić. Who was... wait for it... offside when he scored. But was his goal called back? No. He was literally very clearly in an offside position when the ball was sent in to him, and scored from that cross, but the goal stood. I am angry. We may have won, but I am angry. Fabbri is no stranger to getting things wrong, specifically when reffing Milan matches, which is salt in the wound.

In what universe is Djuričić (and his teammate, for that matter,) not offside?

Pioli made an important tactical sub in the 59th, bringing on Tomori and sacrificing Messias, changing his formation since we were down to 10 men. Then a miracle happened. In the 64th, the ball went out of bounds, at first seemingly from Giroud. But VAR intervened. They had caught Villar's hand outstretched. After reviewing it, and Fabbri having a look for himself, it was determined that Villar had, in fact, handled the ball. He was shown a yellow and Milan were given a penalty.

Taking the penalty cool as you like

Was this a makeup call? If it was, that would be weird, because two wrongs do not make a right. And this was the right call. It was also the right call for Giroud to take the penalty, which he drilled past Audero to make it 2-1 Milan. 

Bennacer replaced De Ketelaere, then Vranckx made his Milan debut, subbing on for Pobega. Maignan made a couple of amazing saves back to back on Gabbiadini late in the game, then there were three more yellows for Sampdoria and a red card for Giampaolo in stoppage time. 

Vranckx got his Milan debut

The irony was not lost on me that our former coach's luck was so poor against the team he did so poorly managing. And we did finally win an away match, albeit not in the white away kits. But overall, losing Leão for 45 minutes of this match as well as against Napoli next week was brutal. With Giroud and others playing a harsh 98 minutes ahead of another Champions League match, it cost us tired legs and increased potential for injuries. We may have gained three points, but in the end, we also lost a lot, too. It was a brutal win.

This post inspired by the music of Queen's "We Will Rock You"

Our next match is 
Champions League Group Stage
AC Milan vs. GNK Dinamo Zagreb
Wednesday, September 14 • 18:45 CEST (12:45pm EDT)

Sampdoria 1, Milan 2: Brutal Win Sampdoria 1, Milan 2: Brutal Win Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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