Milan 2, Atalanta 0: Twice as Good

Milan are getting used to winning again. And keeping clean sheets. This 2-0 victory over Atalanta was our fourth win in a row and as many clean sheets after an abysmal drop in form. It was also a landmark match for Pioli, his 800th career match, 169 of them for AC Milan. But Milan are not as used to winning against such tricky opponents, let alone having so many players available. With only three players out, that meant the glorious return to the pitch of both Maignan and Ibrahimović. In fact, the heavens wept with joy at their return. And that is what made this win twice as good.

Current mood.

Milan had plenty of chances that were off target, starting in the first minute with a shot from Leão. Atalanta, on the other hand, were held to only three shots, with zero on target for the entire match. Which was a great way to welcome Maignan back after over five months out with injury, because he played the full 90 minutes, but had very little to do. Tonali had a free kick that was well over, then Giroud hit a tricky shot on the volley that went just over, all within the first ten minutes. Milan were definitely not hiding and waiting anymore.

Just his mere presence on the pitch again was so comforting.

In the 25th, though, Theo Hernández was robbed. After Giroud headed the ball back to him outside of the box, Theo hit it on the volley with incredible power, and the ball ricocheted off the inside of the post, made some semblance of very brief contact with the back of Musso, and landed in the back of the net. 1-0 Milan. The league awarded it as a Musso own goal, which was truly unfair to both players.

He deserved credit for an amazing shot and goal.

In the 26th, as Leão was about to make a signature fast break that would have left him one v. one with Musso, Tolói jumped in the way and stopped the ball with his hand. He was shown a yellow card, but Leão protested, wanting more or something. That earned him a silly yellow card, which will see him suspended against Fiorentina on Saturday. Leão would have a shot in the 33rd minute that would just skim over the top corner of the goal, and one a few minutes later that was not as close.

Leão will be sorely missed on Saturday, but at least we'll have most everyone else back.

The second half started a bit tense, at least until Gasperini earned his requisite yellow card in the 58th minute for protesting. Shortly thereafter, Musso had the save of the game with his foot on a charging Giroud after a brilliant little backheel from Brahim Díaz. There were chances blocked or saved on Leão, Brahim Díaz, and Messias. Thiaw got a yellow card for a foul on Mæhle in the 65th minute.

Maignan got to move a little bit when the young Danish star Højlund sent a ball into the general area in the 70th minute, but most of his activity involved shouting and directing his teammates. Oh, and cheering for the goals. We have missed all of it so very much. He is just so badass. It was so great to see him back. Thank you Tatarusanu, but it was so good to have Maignan back.

Musso actually did quite well against the goalscoring force that is Giroud.

The other return was just four minutes later, when Ibrahimović was subbed on after nine long and painful rehabilitation months out. It was amazing to see him on the pitch again, even if he did have to wear that frightening kit with the shorts that were black in all the right places so it made the players look like they had wet themselves. Not even that kit could ruin this moment, and it just felt like the world was going to be okay again, like a superhero was returning to protect us once more.

Not even that horrific kit could spoil this comeback.

De Ketelaere also came on, replacing Brahim Díaz, and Ibrahimović was able to give Giroud a few minutes of rest. He was clearly a distraction for the Atalanta players, too, because in the 86th, as they were focusing on both Ibrahimović and Leão, the latter sent the ball forward and Messias slipped through the defense unnoticed, chipped the ball over Musso, who had to come out to try to stop him, and the ball was in the back of the net. 2-0 Milan.

Messias with the stealth goal.

Rebić replaced Leão in the 88th minute, then Saelemaekers came on for Messias a minute later. Krunić unfortunately earned a late yellow card for a foul on Jeremie Boga in the 90th minute, and he, too, will be suspended for the Fiorentina match. But when the whistle blew, Milan had another clean sheet and all three points once again. And despite the wet weather, with Maignan and Ibrahimović both returning, the win was twice as good.

This post inspired by the music of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 25
Fiorentina vs. Milan
Saturday, March 4, 2023 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Milan 2, Atalanta 0: Twice as Good Milan 2, Atalanta 0: Twice as Good Reviewed by Elaine on 11:40 PM Rating: 5
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