Milan 1, Salernitana 1: Drama at the San Siro

Monday night at the San Siro did not go as planned for Milan. What should have been a victory lap in front of 72,000 home fans turned into more drama than necessary and ended in a 1-1 draw with 16th place Salernitana. A clearly tired and unfocused Milan were held by a stubborn Salernitana and literally got in their own way. A tense match turned into a literal battle with more drama than an award show gone wrong and four of the five cards shown in the final ten minutes. It was a night filled with dropped points, regrets, and drama at the San Siro.

Giroud offered Milan the only lifeline in a night filled with drama.

The first half was largely filled with frustration for Milan. Like in the 23rd minute, Theo Hernández was running in on goal, and Gyömber came in with a perfectly timed tackle to stop him, while Leão's follow up attempt was just wide. Or Giroud's fantastic bicycle kick attempt a few minutes later that went just over the crossbar. 

Bennacer made an uncharacteristic mistake in giving the ball away in the 33rd, which led to a great chance for Kastanos, who drew Maignan out, but the Salernitana player shot wide. Multiple shots by Leão and Theo went wide or were blocked, then Maignan made a fantastic save on Boulaye Dia in the 42nd, whose speed had left him 1v1 with our superstar keeper. Finally, in the 46th minute, from a Bennacer corner kick, Giroud was able to head one home past Ochoa. 1-0 Milan.

A moment of celebration in an otherwise difficult night.

Leading at halftime was a good thing, but hardly felt safe after the way Milan had played in the first half. And it wasn't. Bennacer made a spectacular run around defenders in the 52nd, serving it up on a platter for Leão, who was not sharp enough to receive it and get the shot off. A frustrated Giroud grabbed Mazzochi in the 59th minute for some unknown reason, earning him the fifth yellow card that will see him suspended for our next match against Udinese.

Then it happened. Boulaye Dia, completely unmarked, scored from a great cross from Bradarić. 1-1 all. Pioli brought on what should have been impact subs: De Ketelaere, Ibrahimović, and Origi for Brahim Díaz, Giroud, and Leão respectively. But they really did not make the impact they were expected to make. Theo was fouled in the box by Lassana Coulibaly in the 64th, but La Penna did not even award the foul, let alone the penalty. It might have seemed a bit of a harsh penalty, but he did make contact, it was from behind, and he did not get the ball. Frustrating.

Theo was one of the players who battled hard, but just weren't enough individually to make the difference.

There were a couple of potential injury scares, like Theo down just a minute later with what looked like a possible muscular injury, but he was able to play the rest of the match. Then there was another potential penalty for Milan in the 70th minute. In fact, La Penna awarded the penalty originally, then rescinded it once he reviewed the play with VAR. Bradarić did shove his hand across Bennacer, but in the end, it was apparently judged as not enough contact for the penalty. 

Origi had a great chance in the 76th, but Ochoa came up with a massive point blank save. Milan were "laying siege" to Salernitana's goal, according to my commentator. They actually took 24 shots on the night, but only four were on target. 

Florenzi brought the grinta back with him, but his shot was actually stopped by his own teammate.

The big news was that Florenzi made his comeback after 195 days out injured. Immediately, he started putting in crosses, but he was putting them in for the likes of the cursed De Ketelaere. Our former "Pum Pum Pum" striker Piatek nearly scored from distance in the 82nd minute, but Maignan made another solid save. Then the drama turned up a few notches.

Salernitana's first yellow was in the 85th minute, then, unrelated to the drama, Tonali replaced Bennacer. In the 87th minute, Milan literally got in our own way. Theo's initial shot was saved, there was a bit of a scramble, but Florenzi's shot was heading in, and actually required a Goal Line Technology (GLT) check to see if it actually crossed the line. But it turned out it was stopped right on the line... by Kalulu. He's such a good defender that now he is defending both goals. 

Great to have Ibrahimović back, but even in a battle of the Vikings, he couldn't make the difference.

The cards started flowing, and Ibrahimović had a shot saved. Tomori was whistled for a handball that was not a handball, and his reaction earned him an unnecessary yellow card. In the 95th minute, all hell broke loose. Sambia fell down out of bounds with the ball and was holding onto it, and Krunić and Theo bullied him trying to get it back for a quick throw in. This started a full on brawl, in which even Pioli was separating players for. As La Penna went to check on Sambia, Boulaye Dia apparently attacked Theo Hernández, who went down. Dia was awarded the final yellow card of the match. It could have been much worse, but La Penna did not exactly control the game well, either. 

Despite fighting ferociously to the final whistle, it was not enough. So much unnecessary drama, and only one point to show for it. Worse still, it was the first time Salernitana had taken points off of Milan at the San Siro in the three point era. Ouch. Just when we think that Pioli has got the team back online, we take a step backward. The players are still just a little too mentally fragile or exhausted or both. But as Pioli mentioned in his postmatch comments, one of the most disappointing parts was that the substitutes were unable to make an impact. 

Our fans have been undying in their support, regardless of the results.

Also, as Florenzi pointed out, this was a match that last year, we would have won, but "this year is like that." (Even though this calendar year started out with a win against Salernitana.) Thanks to the fact that Inter, Roma, Lazio, and Atalanta also dropped points this weekend, Milan finished the weekend in fourth place. But we could have drawn level with Inter had we just been able to avoid all of the drama at the San Siro.

This post inspired by the music of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 27
Udinese vs. Milan
Saturday, March 18, 2023 • 20:45 CET (3:45pm EST*)
*Note the time difference due to Daylight Savings Time in the U.S.

Milan 1, Salernitana 1: Drama at the San Siro Milan 1, Salernitana 1: Drama at the San Siro Reviewed by Elaine on 11:54 PM Rating: 5
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