Empoli 1, Milan 3: Last Gasp Win

Milan's mentality knows no bounds. Having lost three new players to injuries in this match alone, and seeming to be a team playing on their last gasp, they came back in stoppage time to take all three points from Empoli. The cost is obviously very high, with new injuries to Saelemaekers, Calabria, and Kjaer very worrisome heading into yet another insane round of fixtures in both the Champions League and Serie A. As mentioned ahead of this match, when Milan are missing big players, other players step in to fill those shoes, and that happened again tonight. Ballo-Touré scored his first goal for Milan, and with goals from Rebić and Leão, the three points were ours. It was a miraculous finish to an absolutely nailbiting game, a last gasp win.

The last gasp win from a new hero

The writing was on the wall when Messias was also added to the injury list ahead of the match and did not even make the trip. Another omen was when Kjaer took an early knock in just the 12th minute. Despite Milan dominating possession and having attempts from Giroud, Leão and Saelemaekers, it was our Viking defender who got his name in the book first - a yellow card for Kjaer in the 24th for a foul on Parisi. Shortly thereafter, Saelemaekers signaled for a substitution, and was replaced by Krunić in the 32nd, as he sprained his knee.

More worrisome, just seven minutes later, our captain and only healthy starting fullback, Calabria, pulled up and actually had to be stretchered off, replaced by Kalulu in just the 39th. That left the armband to Kjaer, a fateful choice, apparently. Not to be outdone, Grassi was also injured by his own player, De Winters in a collision deemed "not a foul" on De Ketelaere by my commentators, although definitely whistled as a foul by Aureliano. Sadly, Grassi went off injured in stoppage time before the half, replaced by Marin.

The worst images we could imagine in this one

After Milan opened up the match with conviction, the tables were reversed at the beginning of the second half with Marin firing a shot wide of his fellow Romanian in goal, Tatarusanu, who looked anything but confident deputizing for Maignan. Shortly thereafter, in the 48th, you could see Kjaer holding his thigh and wincing, but he continued to fight on, something he may regret, depending on how serious his injury is. Both Stojanović and Satriano also fired wide, then Milan gained some momentum through some rough play from Empoli.

In the 57th, after Bennacer was fouled by De Winter, Giroud's resulting free kick actually hit the crossbar, Milan's closest shot to this point. Tonali sent a rocket wide, then took a powerful free kick that was first deflected by Luperto, then miraculously saved by Vicario, who had a pretty great night in goal up to this point. Tomori made a nice tackle in the 66th, a sign that he is coming back into his beast form, and Krunić took a ball to the face from point blank a minute later, but was able to shake it off.

He made a few saves, even if he was shaky

In the 70th, Kjaer realized he needed to come off, and signaled for a substitution, but like the Viking he is, still made the save before sitting down to wait for the sub. That sub was Dest, pushing Kalulu into the center. Also subbed on at that point were Brahim Díaz for De Ketelaere, and Rebić for Giroud. This also meant that the captain's armband switched again, this time to Tonali, something he said he wished had not occurred under the circumstances of the multiple injuries. 

10 meters either way, Rebić is back

Tatarusanu did make a decent save on Bajrami in the 74th, who was incessantly attacking from the moment he was subbed on in the 58th. Then came the rain. And finally, the goal. There was some controversy on the goal, as Paolo Zanetti, who received a yellow card for dissent shortly thereafter, complained about where Tonali threw the ball in from. He is right, if you look at where the ball left the field compared to where Tonali threw it in, it was a good 10 meters forward. However, if he saw how Leão turned on the speed for the final goal in the 97th minute, 10 meters forward or behind was not going to change the outcome of that play.

There's just no holding Tonali back

Tonali took the throw in, quickly, to Leão, who sent it across for a completely unmarked Rebić (who was still going to be unmarked if Tonali had thrown it in from the appropriate spot, by the way,) and Rebić sent it past the helpless Vicario in the 79th. 1-0 Milan. A great way for him to announce that he was back from two months on the sidelines, and such a relief after such a tense match and three more injured players.

Things you love to see

Zanetti thought he would trick Milan by bringing on our ex, Destro, in the 82nd, who he had said in his prematch press conference would not be fit for this match. But his trick did not work. Bennacer nearly  took out Tonali with a clearance, but luckily, Tonali is tough enough to take a ball like that and keep running. Then Bennacer was fatefully called for a foul on Bajrami and shown a yellow card in the first minute of stoppage time. Bajrami scored the equalizer from the resulting free kick, 1-1 all. As a fan, it is easy to believe that Maignan would have saved that, but mostly because Tatarusanu is simply so much slower to react than our main man.

That is how it's done

What happened next was nothing short of miraculous. While Empoli were celebrating what they thought was a point, Milan dragged themselves back to the center of the pitch and kicked off. Not even 30 seconds later, the ball was in the back of the net, after Leão crossed it all the way over to Krunić, who headed it in for the incoming Ballo-Touré. 2-1 Milan. That is not a typo. Fodé Ballo-Touré, who avoided being called for a handball in the first half and conceding a penalty, saved the day with his first ever Serie A and Milan goal in the 93rd minute.

So happy for Ballo-Touré

To cap off a brilliant performance, and because the assist and the assist-to-the-assist were not enough, a minute later, Rebić passed the ball to Leão, who put it into gear and chipped it over Vicario in what Italians call a cucchiaio to make the final score 3-1 Milan. He was smiling, as usual, and made it look like child's play.

If Leão gets in front of you, you have already conceded

It was an incredible, heart-stopping turn of events after three heart-wrenching new injuries. The joy was absolutely palpable, and Ballo-Touré admitted to shedding tears after his first goal. I think many of us shed tears in that match, but probably more for the fact that we are back up to nine injured players again as we head to London to face Chelsea on Wednesday in the Champions League, then back to face Juventus on Saturday. Milan may not have enough healthy players to keep up this level of success, but for tonight, this was definitely a last gasp win.

This post inspired by the music of Stone Temple Pilot's "Dead and Bloated"

Our next match is 
Champions League Group Stage
Chelsea vs Milan
Wednesday, October 5 • 21:00 CEST (3pm EDT)

Empoli 1, Milan 3: Last Gasp Win Empoli 1, Milan 3: Last Gasp Win Reviewed by Elaine on 11:45 PM Rating: 5
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