Don’t Stop Them Now! Milan Having a Good Time at the Top

Don’t stop them now, ’cause they are having a good time. Milan don’t want to stop dreaming, and after Fiorentina, the Rossoneri continued their run at the top of the Serie A table, taking three important points out of their trip to the historically perilous Marassi in Genoa as they toppled Sampdoria 2-1.

Inter, Juventus and Napoli all won earlier this weekend and all the pressure was on the Rossoneri –  whose lead was reduced to two points only. But Stefano Pioli’s boys are demonstrating day after day why all teams should now fear Milan’s hunger.

Still facing the absences of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rafael Leao, Simon Kjaer and Ismael Bennacer, Pioli had really no choices to make, confirming the well-tested 4-2-3-1, with Hakan Calhanoglu, Brahim Diaz and Alexis Saelemaekers behind the goal-less Ante Rebic.

For the home-side, Claudio Ranieri confirmed his 4-4-2, adding more centimeters to his attack with Manolo Gabbiabini on Fabio Quagliarella’s side, supported by Antonio Candreva on the right wing and Jakub Jankto on the left.

The Rossoneri started by going full throttle. They immediately tried to take the lead of the match, but Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz failed their chances, losing the perfect timing to score thanks to the hard pressure from the Blucerchiati defenders.

Despite a good start for the visitors, the first big chance of the match came from the hosts – who were wearing a historic white and night blue shirt celebrating the 100th birthday of Andrea Doria (one of the two clubs that merged in 1946 to form Sampdoria).

Antonio Candreva, remembering his recent past with Inter on the other side of the Navigli rivers, created some panic from a corner kick, with the ball not willing to leave the danger zone. Pioli and all the Rossoneri had to thank Saint Gigio Donnarumma and his reflexes as he denied a tricky Lorenzo Tonelli header.

The home side defender, now in berserk mode, stole the stage again on 38 minutes: Rebic managed to put the ball past Emil Audero with a decisive shot, but Tonelli somehow cleared it away right on the goal line – with the ball partially past it, but not enough according to the goal line technology.

The Serie A leaders, despite the strenuous defense organized by Ranieri, legitimately took the lead before the end of the first period, thanks to the Presidente Kessié. Referee Gianpaolo Calvarese allowed a penalty for a Jakub Jankto’s handball in the box, and the Ivorian redeemed himself after his mistake from the spot last week against Fiorentina to put Milan ahead.

The second half didn’t offer any emotion in the first 20 minutes, with Milan switching to cruise control mode to keep Sampdoria far from Donnarumma and resorting to counter-attacks to hit the home side.

The turning point came on 77 minutes, when Saelemaekers was called back on the bench by Pioli and replaced by Samu Castillejo. It took approximately 45 seconds for the Spaniard to dampen Sampdoria’s ambitions as he finalized a brilliant team effort started by substitute Jans Petter Hauge and Ante Rebic.

A few seconds later, Rebic had the chance to kill the match, but Davide Calabria’s cross was too high and strong to be tamed, and the Croatian couldn’t take it down, missing a great chance.

And so, right after that, Milan had to face one of the most dreaful rules of football: You miss a goal, you get one (goal sbagliato, goal subito, as the Italians say). For the 7th time out of 9 games this season, the Rossoneri conceded a goal from a dead ball, this time courtesy of Albin Ekdal.

There were still eight minutes to play, but the result would never be in doubt.

The capolista are not willing to slow down, and the Big Three are warned: Juventus, Inter, and Napoli will have to fight to get back on top as this Milan really won’t stop easily.



December 6, 2020 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 10

SCORERS: 45′ Kessié (M, pen.), 77′ Castillejo (M), 82′ Ekdal (S)

SAMPDORIA (4-4-2): Audero; Bereszynski (20′ Colley), Ferrari, Tonelli, Augello (82′ Léris); Candreva, Thorsby, Silva (46′ Ekdal), Jankto (46′ Damsgaard); Gabbiadini (57′ La Gumina), Quagliarella (Letica, Ravaglia, Yoshida, Regini, Rocha, Askildsen; Verre, Ramirez) Coach: Ranieri
MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Gabbia, Romagnoli, Hernandez; Tonali, Kessié; Saelemaekers (76′ Castillejo), Brahim Diaz (46′ Hauge), Calhanoglu (90′ Krunic); Rebic (A. Donnarumma, Tatarusanu, Conti, Diogo Dalot, Duarte, Kalulu, Mioni, Colombo, Maldini) Coach: Pioli
REFEREE: Mr. Calvarese from Teramo
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Silva, Jankto (S), Kessié (M); Extra Time: First Half 3′, Second Half 4′