Milan 2, Spezia 1: Winning Isn't Everything

Sometimes, winning is not fun. Like when your team scores three beautiful goals, but only two count and your top scorer gets sent off celebrating the winning goal. Or like when the youngest member of a family dynasty for your club scores... against you. Or when the referee hands out more cards than you handed out candy on Halloween, and he still lost control of the match. Or when you face your next match missing seven players, six of them starters, due to injury and suspension. Three points are great, they are very important, but winning isn't everything.

Epic goal, epic celebration, epic ridiculous suspension for Tuesday

This match was wild from the very beginning. Milan had Spezia pinned back mercilessly, Dragowski had seven saves by the 50th minute. Krunić hit the crossbar in the 16th minute, but it was Theo Hernández who scored a great goal from a Bennacer assist in the 21st to make it 1-0. Of course, we literally had to wait five minutes for the VAR review while they checked to see if it was offside or not. But eventually, they managed to figure out that he was not offside and the goal stood.

Captain Theo opened up the scoring

Bennacer would get his yellow card in the 40th, while Leão hit the crossbar in the 48th, and Krunić's rebound shot was saved. Spezia's best chance of the first half came when Bourabia sent the ball across the face of goal, but Nzola couldn't get to it in time, and Milan were spared... for the first half.

Pioli proactively subbed Bennacer off at the half for Tonali because the Algerian was on a yellow card, clearly not wanting to go down to ten men or have him suspended. Then, the worst case scenario, which everyone had anticipated, happened. Daniel Maldini, in his first start of the season for Spezia, scored against Milan to equalize. 1-1 all. His grandfather, Cesare had played against Milan at San Siro when he played for Torino, but had never scored against the Rossoneri. Daniel became the first Maldini to ever score against Milan at the San Siro. Ouch.

Happy for him, but it also hurts to the Milan core

Messias would earn a yellow card for simulation, but then the big disappointment happened. Tonali, not going to let a Maldini scoring against Milan be the story of the night, took a pass from Origi and scored a screamer in the 65th, only for VAR to review that goal as well. Unfortunately, it was determined that Tomori had actually committed a foul on the play leading up to that goal, so the brilliant goal was chalked off. And it was all downhill after that.

How can you call a goal back like that?

Pioli subbed on Rebić, De Ketelaere, and Giroud for Messias, Brahim Díaz, and Origi respectively. Things got increasingly tense until in the 82nd, Nzola's very rough foul on Tonali (and possibly a De Ketelaere foul on a Spezia player as well) nearly led to a brawl. Trying to get control of the match again, Fabbri handed out yellows to Nzola, Theo Hernández (who was a booking away from suspension), and also notably, Giroud.

Two more very important players needlessly missing for Tuesday's match

Another on-loan-from-Milan player, Caldara, got his yellow card in the 88th, but the spectacular moment came in the 89th, when Giroud, who had been involved in all four Champions League goals on Wednesday, scored the winner with a spectacular athletic volley from a Tonali cross. 2-1 Milan. The San Siro erupted, and Giroud, caught up in the moment, ripped off his shirt in celebration. Fabbri had to card him, but already being on a yellow, he was shown a red card and sent off. The veteran Frenchman was clearly a little embarrassed in spite of his exuberance at scoring such an incredible goal.

Artistry. Athleticism. Most importantly, the game winner.

Facing an ungodly amount of stoppage time for all of the fighting and VAR checks, Pioli sent a defensive sub of Thiaw on for Leão. But the card parade was not over. Tonali would still get a yellow card (gratefully, he had been spared one in the earlier altercation, despite having pushed Nzola) for colliding with a Spezia player, a foul that he saw the worst of. Milan took 23 shots on the night, 11 on target, while Spezia took 13 shots, with five on target. It was a really intense match. Finally, the whistle blew and it was all over.

Still a win, but at a price

This match was insane to watch for Milan fans, with more twists and turns than a winding mountain road. While Daniel Maldini getting playing time is ideal, and seeing him score should be a happy thing, even his own father did not seem to know how to react. How do you react when your own son kicks you in the stomach or stabs you in the back doing what you love most? The three points were crucial to staying in the title race, but losing both Giroud and Theo to suspension on Tuesday, on top of the five players we already have out to injury, is also painful. Winning should feel good, but this match proved that winning isn't everything.

This post inspired by the music of Garbage's "Only Happy When it Rains"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 14
Cremonese vs. Milan
Tuesday, November 8 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Milan 2, Spezia 1: Winning Isn't Everything Milan 2, Spezia 1: Winning Isn't Everything Reviewed by Elaine on 11:03 PM Rating: 5
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