Milan fans will have been wishing that today’s clash with Lazio was called off. It certainly wasn’t one for the Rossoneri to remember, but this game will stay in the minds of Milanisti worldwide for a long time.
Despite the torrential conditions in Rome, the early game was rather tepid - made into a metaphor through a tepid Franck Kessie shot. Calabria took Immobile out early on - and would pay the price later in the game by not learning the lesson from this clash; get on the right side of Immobile and play him out of the match! Following that, Luis Alberto was caught by Musacchio - a very real penalty shout that was denied. On a lucky day, Lazio would have had three penalties within the first 45 minutes. Not good defending from AC Milan.
The first major action in the game came extremely late into the first-half. Franck Kessie’s rough challenge was smartly played by Luis Alberto who rightly went to ground and won the penalty for Lazio. Kessie will feel hard done by, but tackles like his are usually punished. Ciro Immobile found it all too easy to smash the ball beyond Gianluigi Donnarumma from the penalty spot and with five minutes left in the first half, Lazio took the lead.
Immobile made the first half his with a wonderful right-footed volley from the side of the box. Senad Lulic found the Italian forward with a smart cross and the unmarked Lazio star made it two and doubled his tally.
Frustration sank in, like the rain to the pitch, for Milan who went into the dressing room after the first forty-five utterly shellshocked and angry, with a Lazio two-goal lead to turn around.
Make that three. Ciro Immobile struck again. Milan’s back four fell apart - with Bonnuci and Musacchio going for the same ball and missing out. This left Immobile open. Why is he not being man-marked out of the game after striking twice? That’s three goals.
Make that four. On the 47th minute, Ciro Immobile turned Davide Calabria inside out for the FIFTH time and passed the ball to Luis Alberto in an empty box. Four goals to nil and it wasn’t even 50 minutes. Why is this happening with such a good backline? Clearly, there are questions that must be asked.
After Borini and Cutrone were taken off so Hakan Calhanoglu and Nikola Kalinic could come on, a bit of hope sprung through for Milan as Montolivo found himself in front of goal with the ball and buried a tidy finish. Hope comes from the most unlikeliest of sources, does it not?
⚽️ GOOAL RICARDO MONTOLIVO— Team Milan AC (@TeamMilanAC) September 10, 2017
Lazio 4-1 Milan pic.twitter.com/ZJLxdMFrTk
Kalinic was gifted a chance shortly after, but couldn’t get his feet on it. Musacchio could have scored after, but couldn’t get to it - and Kessie blasted the rebound into orbit. Milan applied the pressure, but couldn’t score. It seemed like a case of far too little and far too late. Kalinic could have won a penalty, but it was a 50/50 challenge that the ref was probably right to look beyond.
Calabria would have played a part in another goal for Lazio, as Jordan Lukaku burned him and missed the chance to score. So much questions for Milan at the back! Marco Parolo was sent off for a stupid challege, but you’ve got to admire the fight from him - despite being three goals up.
One must ask why Montella didn’t opt for a back three to match Lazio player for player - a situation where Milan may have thrived - but also a situation which would allow Calabria and Rodriguez to roam without punishment. Milan don’t have great defensive abilities wide-out, so why not a back three? We’ll need to see a lot of changes going forward. What’s more, the blame culture at Milan needs to shut down - it’s toxic. Bonucci, Donnarumma and Calabria can’t be blaming each other for flaws. They need to be a team.
As for positives? Milan attacked really well at 4-1 down, but nothing worked for them. A 90 minute application of this spell will see results, but Milan can’t start playing when they are three goals down, especially when the inspiration comes from what amounts to be an accidental goal.
One to four-get for Milan? No. They need to stew on this and figure out why they’ve allowed themselves to lose like this. Bonucci and Co. should not accept this. Simone Inzaghi will take the plaudits, and Montella will feel ashamed. All in all - this was hard to watch.