Milan 3, Roma 1: Breaking the Spell

Milan have struggled to put together anything remotely close to a run of form since early in the season, when they started off with seven straight wins. After being knocked out of the Coppa Italia by referee Di Bello Atalanta midweek, this match seemed like it would be a big test. Particularly considering that this same fixture last year was the match that began our downfall. However, even if it was as much about Roma not showing up for this match, Milan did, with a convincing 3-1 win over the Giallorossi. That is how you go about breaking the spell.

A Serie A first - three different French players scoring for one team.

Roma started out very physically, but most of that was worn down very quickly by the abject humiliation of Milan just playing football. Calabria, for example, early on showed off his amazing defensive skills, not long before Roma's defense were absolutely schooled themselves. That came in the form of Adli's first goal for Milan, from a great cross from Reijnders, Adli faked out a defender and shot from wide open space to make it 1-0 Milan. Every Milan fan who has watched and waited for him to get his chance was almost as happy as he was in that moment. Almost.

Adli immediately went to celebrate with the fans, who have always supported him.

Cristante seemed to have regrets about his choice to leave Milan so long ago, taking it out personally on players like Theo Hernández and Reijnders and risking cards on multiple occasions. Spinazzola, too, clotheslined Calabria, but the referee, Guida, was too tired/lazy/disinterested/whatever to pull out his cards just yet. 

In the 29th minute, Theo, from an impossible angle, sent the ball in, and it actually hit the crossbar. Had that gone in, it would have been an incredible goal. Çelik fired back at the other end, with Maignan getting his fingertips to it to deflect it out. Pulisic also had a surprising header that went just wide, and Paredes sent one over while Spinazzola forced Maignan into action. But that was about as good as it got. Gianluca Mancini closed out the half by earning a yellow for going studs up into Giroud.

Everyone celebrating Giroud' scoring 10+ Milan goals for the 3rd season in a row.

Calabria avoided a foul and probable free kick to Roma early in the first half when he took down Bove just outside of the box, but luckily, Guida still had his blinders on. We all saw the second goal, though. Our Viking defender, Kjaer, headed into the area, where Giroud headed it home. 2-0 Milan. A 34-year old making the assist for the 37 year-old. I'm sure that all those fans who have been complaining about how old those players are still celebrated, though. Cristante was carded for whining about being fouled in the buildup to that play, as if he could or would have done anything to stop it, and that just made it that much more delicious.

Of course, Calabria's errors did catch up to us when, in the 67th minute, he fouled Pellegrini in the box, and conceded a penalty for Roma. Paredes converted it to bring the score down to a dangerous 2-1 margin for Milan. With our history of dropping points both recently and to Roma specifically, as well as Mourinho sitting in the stands rather than on the sidelines, this was nervewracking. And Kjaer got a yellow in the 71st minute, too, for stopping Belotti, who had replaced El Shaarawy just ten minutes earlier.

The goal felt like that.

But as many shots as Roma miraculously created, the rest of their game was very poor, even for Roma's standards. Gabbia kept Lukaku in a cage all night, and any shots he did manage to get off were not only offside, but Maignan had them taken care of anyway. It did cost Gabbia a yellow card in the 90th minute, but he really had an amazing performance against the big Belgian striker. Pioli made his first substitutions in the 79th minute, bringing in Okafor and Musah for Pulisic and Rafa Leão respectively.

Five minutes later, there was what is easily my favorite goal of the year. Giroud casually backheeled the ball through Kristensen's legs, sending it into Theo Hernández, who absolutely let it rip. Had it not made contact with the crossbar on the way in, I'm pretty sure that ball would have torn a hole in the back of the net. 3-1 Milan. And all the feels. Brilliant goal. Not only was it one of those goals that makes you feel like Theo looked when he was celebrating, but it was was important in that 3-1 in the 84th is much different than 2-1 at any point in the match. Also, the cameras showing the "professional" Mourinho in the stands looking like he was going to be sick. And then there was Giroud's appreciation of Theo's new curly locks, too. It was just one of those amazing moments as a fan.

Feel the love.

Pioli subbed on Abate's Army in the 89th, bringing on Jiménez for Theo and Zeroli for Adli in the 89th. Right after that, Musah nearly scored a solo goal by dribbling in and around defenders, but his shot actually hit the post. That was almost criminal. But I don't want to be greedy. Roma had a rough enough night just by being the worst version of themselves, which rumors are saying may actually cost Mourinho his job. And we as Milan fans know all too well how that feels. Although to be fair, Pioli is Mourinho's Kryptonite, having faced him six times and defeated him four times and drawn twice. He is actually the only Serie A manager that Mourinho has not defeated. For me, it was enough to enjoy our team playing a decent match, even while still missing nine players, and see some nice goals. Whether or not this breaks the curse we bewitched ourselves with after the Roma match last year has yet to be seen. But it certainly felt in the moment like we were breaking the spell.

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

Our next match is 
Serie A Week 21
Udinese vs. Milan
Suaturday, January 20, 2024 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Milan 3, Roma 1: Breaking the Spell Milan 3, Roma 1: Breaking the Spell Reviewed by Elaine on 12:00 AM Rating: 5
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