Milan 0, Inter 2: Burning In Our Own Hell

Milan's Curva Sud created an amazing gigantic Diavolo in their end of the stadium, then filled the stadium with colorful flames in their fabulous stadium-wide coreo ahead of this Champions League match. Perhaps that should have been an omen, that we were about to burn our own house down. A reality that was evident within the first 20 minutes of this match, when Milan had already conceded two goals to Inter and lost Bennacer to injury, while Leão had not even been able to make the bench. Add to that the blind-to-all-violence referee and, for those of us in the United States, the Three Stooges of commentary, and it was honestly the worst start to a match in my life. Not only were we down in such a big game, but we were burning in our own hell.

Has Milan's Champions League season gone down in flames?

Like Milan started our first match back in the Champions League last season, the team seemed a little timid and overwhelmed by the occasion. Like they knew they were not supposed to be here yet. And on paper, they were right. Inter took full advantage of that, and in just the eighth minute, from a corner kick, Džeko outmuscled Calabria and flicked it past a stunned Maignan. 1-0 Inter. 

Maignan stopped him later, but the first one went in.

Three minutes later, after turning the ball over way too easily in midfield, a theme for Milan in the first half, Mkhitaryan just strolled right down the center of the pitch and shot the ball straight into the center of the net, over Maignan. 2-0 Inter. To be fair, Maignan got a touch to it, but it wasn't enough when the ball was coming at him like that.

As if that start wasn't already the worst, just a minute later, Bennacer apparently injured his knee from a bad tackle by Calhanoglu. He was limping for a bit, then went down as Acerbi pulled Giroud down and Bastoni threw Saelemaekers down in the box simultaneously during a corner in the 13th minute. The referee, Señor Manzano, was blind to all violence and gave zero calls. Inter were playing filthy-dirty, and the ref was here for it. I think that confused Milan players even more, who expected some semblance of a fair match.

We only got 13 minutes of him. Let's all pray Bennacer's injury is nothing serious.

Meanwhile, Bennacer was lying on the pitch. While he was off getting treatment, Calhanoglu hit the post, and Barella skied his rebound over. Maignan also seemed to injure his knee as well on those saves, but was able to continue after a bit. Messias replaced Bennacer in the 18th, who was unable to continue. He apparently left the San Siro on crutches.

The dirty fouls from Inter continued, with Dumfries body slamming Brahim Díaz into the ground in the 25th. Then Bastoni was shoving him, and when Brahim finally pushed him out of bounds, Bastoni jumped up and screamed at the Milan number 10 and tried to start a shoving match with him. Manzano made them kiss and make up, but the violence and ill will continued throughout the match with both teams.

By Martínez's standards, this amount of contact means he is pregnant with Kjaer's child.

Manzano finally actually made a call in the 31st, awarding Inter a penalty when Lautaro Martínez went down in the box. However, VAR intervened, and after a quick look, Manzano realized that there was no foul, and waived the penalty and Kjaer's yellow card off. He did not, however, give Martínez a yellow card for diving. It is shocking to me, given Inter's excessive amount of debt, how they are still able to afford to pay a referee like this.

Case in point, in the 42nd, Dumfries clearly elbowed Saelemaekers in the face, a foul that even a blind referee would have carded for. No. Then Mkhitaryan also elbowed Brahim Díaz in the face in stoppage time. First, Krunić was shown a yellow for protesting and defending his teammate. That seemed to remind Manzano that he had a yellow card, and while he had it out, he did finally show a yellow to Mkhitaryan as well. But there could have been many, many yellows (or worse) in that first half.

Brahim Díaz was constantly molested and abused all night by Inter players.

The second half, Milan came out on the pitch and remembered who they were. Immediately, they began to press and create chances, even if their finishing was poor. Any attempts from Inter were stopped, such as when Maignan came out to shut down Džeko's attempt in the 53rd. Pioli brought on Thiaw and Origi in the 59th to replace Kjaer and Saelemaekers, some brawn in the back and fresh legs in attack. 

Tonali's shot was slightly deflected in the 63rd, but hit the post. Tomori was shown a yellow card in the 64th because Džeko tried to make himself sterile by smashing into him. I am not really sure what Manzano's bar was for a yellow card, because he seemed to react more to the result of contact rather than the actual contact itself. 

Krunić should not have reacted. But seriously, Inter players were constantly molesting Milan players.

He did miss something, as did VAR, in the 75th. Krunić, having already unfairly been shown a card, decided to make it worth his while, apparently. He closed his fist and punched Bastoni in the abdomen in the 75th. Only the officials did not see it. I do not condone this type of behavior, and it should have been a red card. But at the same time, it must be said, who hasn't wanted to punch Bastoni? Krunić should have controlled himself on the pitch, but many of us at home related to his temptation for poor behavior.

Kalulu came on for Calabria and Pobega, fresh off of his compound rib fracture, replaced Brahim Díaz in the 82nd. Some fans were complaining that these were defensive subs from Pioli, but he did not have a lot of other options, and the game was incredibly violent physical. Milan would finish with 13 shots, but only two on target. Had they been more clinical, they would have easily scored a goal or two. That has been our personal hell this season. But once again, they were punished for missing quality, creativity, and size in attack as well as in our midfield. We really, really missed Leão.

We go again on Tuesday. For better or for worse.

As I said on the podcast ahead of this match, my expectations were very low: as long as Inter fans did not burn Maignan with flares, I would be okay with the result. But it still burns. This was the first time Milan ever lost to Inter in a Champions League match. Two goals in three minutes were the difference in this one. Inter exploded like a firecracker, but fizzled as the match wore on, and Milan could have taken advantage of it, despite the superior quality/cost of the Nerazzurri squad and the vast difference in depth. Despite being down two goals, Milan still have a chance to go through, but injuries will be the biggest factor. If we can recover Leão, and ideally also Bennacer, then we have a chance. If not, we will be left burning in our own hell.

This post inspired by the music of "Pioli's on Fire"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 35
Spezia vs. Milan
Saturday, May 13, 2023 • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT)

Milan 0, Inter 2: Burning In Our Own Hell Milan 0, Inter 2: Burning In Our Own Hell Reviewed by Elaine on 11:59 PM Rating: 5
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