I carry respect for very few teams, one of them is Udinese. They always seem to stretch whatever resources they have to create well balanced competitive teams and push forward in the World of the have-not's. Not to mention they always put a good fight! A few seasons back the epic six goal draw comes to mind and a resounding 2-1 win last season as well. Simply put they are a great squad and didn't deserve the late soft PK call, but this is why I always stress not to piss and moan about referees, because in the end it all evens out. Udine is apparently showing a still of the incident for their entirety of their sporting news program today, this is their choice as I still have a still of Muntari's goal, I mean no goal against Juve...simply put, it happens.
Now that I got that off my chest and we have all taken a deep breath from the madness that is Mario, Milan played an electric first half. Maybe it was the Mario effect, or the crowd noise, but simply put the team was charged up. Niang, Monthy, Flamini, and Balo all looked prime to explode and chance after chance went amiss as Milan could have buried this team early. Which brings back to Udinese for a moment, they work hard, they have resolve and if you don't bury them early they tend to find a way to finish their only shot on goal and have you staring at one point instead of three on home turf!
Apart from Mario's heroics we can't lose the strong performance from Montolivo who reminded many a Milan fan why Pirlo was no longer a viable choice in front of defense. Busy, industrious and simple on the ball when he had time he used it delightfully finding Balo, El Sharaawy, and Niang. When he didn't he kept play simple and let midfielders around make the runs and do the work. It was a great performance overshadowed by Balotelli, but must not be forgotten. Same can be said for Flamini and Nocerino who worked hard to defend and break forward, but the home team seemed to understand the task at hand on this day. Defensively the team still pays for mistakes, and eventually the back four as we saw it this weekend will gel and become successful...heavy emphasis on eventually.
The homecoming of Super Mario was a resounding success and truly a played better then any fairy tale could have been written. Two goals, a raucous crowd and team unity will show that even if he has his problems his positives will be felt from top to bottom on this team and Club. It's not Mario's Milan by any stretch, but a welcome catalyst and protagonist to the new look AC Milan!