Milan 2, Roma 2: Coming Unglued

Milan had this game in the bag for 87 minutes. With a 2-0 lead, they were playing with confidence until they conceded on two set pieces late in the match to drop two points to Roma in a heartbreaking 2-2 draw. There are tons of theories as to what happened, but when you take a team like Milan, who have been conceding both set pieces and goals late in the game, and pit them against a team who has scored the most goals from set pieces and also boasts one of the best away records, it just makes sense that they would even out. With the Mourinho suspension curse, Milan were lucky not to give up all three points. Still, it was not fun to watch them coming unglued.

Kalulu represents how we all feel right now

The parade of yellow cards started early and kept head referee Massa busy throughout the match. There were at least ten cards shown to players during the match, plus a couple of yellows flashed toward staff members/coaches on both benches (it was never clarified who those cards were for.) Oddly, there seemed to be two cards shown in the 9th minute, one to Çelik for a foul on Theo Hernández, then another that online stats were crediting to Mancini for dissent, which would result in him being suspended for Roma's next match. After the match, however, that yellow card disappeared from online match reports. Not sure if Massa realized he'd given too many cards and tried to slip one off the list, or more likely, the online statisticians just got it wrong. But that would have made 11 cards on the pitch, plus the two on the benches.

This was just the ninth minute

For Milan, cards were shown to Leão for a tackle on Tammy Abraham in the 26th minute; Bennacer in the 62nd, also for a challenge on Abraham; Tomori in the 68th for a challenge on Dybala; and finally, Tonali earned one for dissent in the 72nd. Unfortunately, that will see Tonali suspended for our match vs. Lecce on Saturday. The match was physical, perhaps not 10 or 11 cards physical, but to Massa's credit, he did keep control of the match with his very generous card distribution.

There is so much sadness lately. The match started with a tribute to both Gianluca Vialli and Ernesto Castano, both former Serie A players who passed away this week. The Curva Sud also honored both Vialli and Mihajlović with a banner ahead of the match. And as if that wasn't tragic enough, the real battle of the day wasn't even on the pitch, or even Roma against Milan, it was on a motorway with Roma and Napoli fans. And men say women are emotional.

Another somber moment before kickoff to remember two former Serie A players

As for the game itself, Milan were more dangerous than Roma, though it was an excellent contest. Brahim Diaz sent a rocket in from distance in the 29th that forced Rui Patricio into a save. Then, in complete irony, Milan scored on Roma from a set piece. Tonali sent in a corner, and Kalulu scored with a brilliant diving header to put Milan up 1-0. The San Siro was absolutely deafening, with over 74,000 fans. So happy for Kalulu, too. He deserved that goal.

Bennacer got hit in the face by Abraham unintentionally, but it left a mark, left him down for treatment for a bit, and did not even earn a foul. Tomori attempted a bicycle kick in the 39th, but was unable to connect, partially because a Roma defender connected with him. While Roma had very few chances at all and no shots on target in the first half, there were a couple of shots that raised the blood pressure at least.

Celebrating Kalulu's goal with 74,000+ fans

The second half, Milan were more dangerous and things were every bit as physical. The parade of subs did not start until the 66th, with Pioli making his first sub of Pobega on for Brahim Díaz in the 70th. Tomori stopped his buddy Abraham, and the Roma player was whistled for the foul, which did not make him happy. Then there were at least one or more fouls and a possible handball, but Massa did not give Milan a penalty. Perhaps that was why Tonali got his card for dissent. That was also around the time Massa went over and flashed a card toward the coaching staff of each side, as well.

Vranckx replaced Bennacer in the 74th, and just three minutes later, the magic happened. Leão sent a perfect cross over to a wide open Pobega, who did not think twice, took the shot, and sent it past Rui Patricio for his first Serie A goal. 2-0 Milan. The stadium erupted, and the team were absolutely ecstatic in their celebrations. To be up 2-0 after such a strong performance... surely that would be enough, right?

Could not be happier for Milan youth product Pobega, he did everything right

Well, it wasn't. And if any of them thought it was, that may have been part of the problem. But also, Roma are known for ruthlessly scoring on their set pieces. Pioli confidently sent De Ketelaere on for Giroud and Gabbia on for Saelemaekers in the 85th. Whether it was switching up the defense, a lapse in concentration, or missing the leadership of both Kjaer and Maignan at the back, Ibañez was wide open to score the header from the set piece in the 87th to bring Roma back into the game. 2-1 Milan. 

Salvatore Foti, Mourinho's assistant who was deputizing for the serial referee-abusing manager, sent Belotti on for Mancini in the 89th. Three minutes into stoppage time, another set piece, another Roma goal. This time, Matić took the header, which Tatarusanu parried away, but Abraham was there to send in the rebound, right past his buddy Tomori. 2-2 all. Absolutely heartbreaking. 

Tomori and his pal Abraham may have some things to work through after this match

So many theories abound about why Milan gave up the three points. Mentality is lacking. We need reinforcements. Pioli always speaks of errors made, obviously. The media talks about losing concentration. All of the usual complaints, and I'm sure it is a combination, but the most obvious reason could be that we miss Maignan. And the eight other players injured. Our newest goalkeeper, Vásquez, was reported to be at the San Siro to watch this one. Will he be enough to make the difference until Maignan heals? I doubt it. Because while Tatarusanu has made some impressive saves, he does not build up the play or coach the team from the back like Maignan does. It is hard to imagine Vásquez coming in and doing that, either. We really, really miss our French keeper.

Milan's poor defensive record this season can be easily linked to three major changes: First, the absence of Kessié. While Bennacer and Tonali have formed a formidable partnership, and have their own strengths, they simply do not provide the defensive coverage that Kessié did. Second, Maignan being out for four months. Enough said. Also, the many absences of Kjaer, who is a badass Viking and a leader at the back. Consider how he even openly yelled at Tatarusanu last year to get himself together, and you should realize what we are missing. 

On to the next one.

Whatever theories you believe, it was so painful to watch such a strong performance, despite missing nine players, only to watch it all come crashing down in the final minutes of the game to drop points. The Scudetto race is long, and while Juventus leapfrogged us on goal differential, and Napoli earned back some of the points we had shaved off of their lead midweek, there is no need to panic. Yet. However, the demoralizing way in which we dropped points... again... could be cause for alarm in the tenuous mentality that Pioli is desperately striving to keep alive while all of his players are on the treatment table. It is simply painful watching them coming unglued.

This post inspired by the music of Jane Siberry's "It Can't Rain All the Time"

Our next match is 
Coppa Italia Round of 16
Milan vs. Torino
Sunday, January 11, 2023 • 21:00 CET (3pm EST)

Milan 2, Roma 2: Coming Unglued Milan 2, Roma 2: Coming Unglued Reviewed by Elaine on 11:30 PM Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.