Bologna 0, Milan 2: White Hot Milan

Milan started their Serie A campaign off with all three points with a 2-0 away win over Bologna Monday night. The weather was brutal, as it was still 81°F (27°C) at the end of the match. Additionally, the air conditioning in Milan's dressing room was not sufficient, so the team opted to stay out on the pitch at halftime, because it was actually cooler outside. But with two brilliant early goals from Giroud and Pulisic, Milan were able to keep Bologna off the scoresheet with five saves from Maignan (and some help from the woodwork) to win the match. In their perfect new away kits, it was a white hot Milan.

Just 11 minutes were all that was needed to get Milan's season started right.

The match started off with intensity, as Lykogiannis hit the crossbar for Bologna just 20 seconds into the match. That warning shot unsettled Milan, and it took them a few minutes to find their feet, but only a few. In the 11th minute, Pulisic sent the ball into the area, Reijnders simultaneously rescued it from going out of bounds and sent the ball across the box for Giroud, who pounced on the opportunity and scored the first goal of the season. 1-0 Milan. OptaPaolo noted it was unusually his first goal scored for Milan with his right foot. The entire play was entertaining, and a great way to start the match.

We love it when you score, too, Oli.

Ferguson had a shot at the other end that ended up in the side netting, then made a pretty tough tackle on Pulisic, but Pairetto, the ref, only gave a warning, as it was early in the game. Pulisic, however, gave more than a warning back. Just five minutes later, he dribbled in, made a sweet little give-and-go with Giroud, and then just scored a golazzo from the top of the box. 2-0 Milan. The American hero had been playing consistently well in the friendlies, but to score such a brilliant goal on his debut in Serie A was just sublime.

The perfect debut.

Giroud had a great strike later in the first half, then Ferguson tested Maignan again. Near halftime, Aebischer felt like he deserved a penalty, as Leão fouled him. But apparently, Pairetto felt it was just outside of the box, and did not even give Leão a card for the push, but instead awarded Bologna a free kick. It was not entirely clear whether or not VAR reviewed the play.

Too hot to go inside at halftime.

The temperature seemed to be getting to people, as players started getting a bit irritable. Tomori fouled Orsolini, who appealed for a card. Then Theo wanted a card for a foul in the 51st, but instead was given his first yellow of the season for dissent. That's the Theo we know and love. 

Shortly thereafter, Milan's goal was under siege, with a shot from Ndoye that hit the post, then shots from Aebischer and Posch that Maignan was forced to save. Bologna would finish with six shots on goal, while Milan only took five, and Bologna also had more possession, with 53% to Milan's 47%. Bologna may have been a bit unlucky to only hit the woodwork, but Milan finished twice, and as we know from being on the other side of things last season, that makes all the difference.

Maignan with five saves, keeping us safe again.

Reijnders had a shot that was saved, he had a great night as well with the assist and his overall match. Then Pioli, apparently still in the habit of subbing on full squads from the summer friendlies, made a quadruple substitution. In the 73rd minute, he brought on Okafor, Pobega, Kalulu, and Chukwueze for Giroud, Loftus-Cheek, Calabria, and Pulisic respectively.

Reijnders with the assist and a great match.

Krunić earned his token yellow card in the 76th minute, and Pobega had a shot saved in the 84th minute. Pioli's final sub was to give Kjaer a few minutes, bringing him on for Thiaw in the 88th minute. In keeping with Bologna's theme of hitting the woodwork, Leão also hit the post in the 90th minute. Maignan made one final save on Urbański, and Milan managed to escape with the clean sheet and all three points.

Loftus-Cheek making a solid debut as well.

The goals were fantastic, the attack was so fun to watch. In his postmatch comments, Pioli seemed pleased with the attitude and organization, but again emphasized the need for time for the new players to settle in as well as the work that still needs to be done. Everyone is still adapting to new teammates and tactics, and despite the scoreline, it was clear this team could still struggle against stronger opponents.

Starting off with a tribute to the late Carlo Mazzone, the squad were united the entire match.

But for those who watched only the goals, or even just the highlights, this Milan side probably looked pretty strong. Certainly, it is a very changed side from last season. The new players are very exciting to watch, and for fans, it is always easier to support players who are already established, even if they cost so much more than the ones we are used to bringing in. So, with the suddenly-interested-because-he-is-literally-invested-in-this-team-Cardinale in attendance, fans got to see a white hot Milan.

This post inspired by the music of Måneskin's "Gasoline"

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 2
Milan vs. Torino
Saturday, August 26, 2023 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)

Bologna 0, Milan 2: White Hot Milan Bologna 0, Milan 2: White Hot Milan Reviewed by Elaine on 11:58 PM Rating: 5
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