After forcing their adoring faithful to endure sweaty palms, chest-thumping heart palpitations, a sense of disillusionment that descended like a stifling fog, and maybe even pushing them to the verge of tears (just maybe), the AC Milan Women managed to make a miracle happen. They came back from an initial 2-0 deficit to win this game 3-2 and my G-d, they did it with so much style.
(And they made us all suffer too.)
Big L will tell us not to ‘call it a comeback’. Well, James Todd Smith, we’re gonna call it exactly what it is.
The Forward For The Forward
Berglind Björg Thorvaldsdottir, Milan’s latest signing, was only announced one hour before the match had started.
Welcome to #ACMilan, Berglind Björg Thorvaldsdottir. Our new Icelandic forward is available for today's match ⚫— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 20, 2020
Benvenuta in rossonero, Berglind Björg Thorvaldsdottir. L'attaccante islandese sarà a disposizione per #MilanRoma di oggi ⚫#FollowTheRossonere #SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/OUkwZMaLRW
Berglind was also inserted into Milan’s starting line-up, just a few days after signing for the club. Maurizio Ganz chose to start her and Milan’s other signing (Pamela Begić) against Roma out of desperation, due to an injury crisis among the club’s players.
His gamble would pay off in a big way in the end.
The Confused Beginning
The beginning of the match started off with a Big Bang and out of this Cambrian explosion, the first signs of life came from Roma’s Annamaria Serturini, who had the first shot on goal. Fortunately for us, her shot just went wide of the target.
Milan’s Pamela Begič then had her own shot on goal less than a minute later. It also went wide of the target.
The first half of the game would be characterized by small battles in the midfield, with swords clanging and dirt flying as both teams fought for possession in the middle of the park. Neither side was able to establish dominance early on, due to both teams managing to successfully disrupt each other’s rhythm.
Roma had a slight edge over Milan as they did a slightly better job of disrupting Milan’s midfield, as they took advantage of the fact that Milan had yet to gel and create cohesion with their new signings (after all, this was the first time both Begič and Berglind had played for the team). That led to several misplaced passes from the Rossonere, who have yet to create the type of chemistry needed to dominate the center of the field.
Manuela Giugliano (a.k.a Milan’s resident Case of The Ex) had to, unfortunately, leave the pitch around the 14th minute. Manuela’s early exit was due to an injury. She was replaced by Andrine Hegerberg, who just happens to be the sister of you know who (in case you haven’t heard by now).
Although Milan had a few more chances on target, it was AS Roma who would eventually find the breakthrough, thanks to a Lindsey Thomas strike at the 20th minute. (It should be noted that the goal can be seen more like an error on the part of our goalkeeper, Maria Korenčiová, rather than anything special from Lindsey.)
Korenčiová’s goalkeeping faux pas was a move that eerily mirrored the same mistake her counterpart on the men’s side, Gianluigi Donnarumma, had committed a day before.
That mistake would prove to be, fortuitously enough, one of the many coincidences between the games by both Milan sides. The similarities, however, would not end there (and would only become even eerier by the time the game had ended).
The Meddling Middle
After a halftime reprieve, Roma would come storming out of the gate. They doubled their lead at around the 49th minute, thanks once again, to Lindsey Thomas. The Giallorosse would not only double their advantage, but they would add to Milan’s misery as well.
It also looked like that, for all intents and purposes, that Milan would become a Doors song and this would, in fact, be The End for them.
While this may have led to much weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth and even declarations of disbelief that we would not qualify for the Champions League (which I may or may not have been guilty of ...), there would be no such defeatism from the women of Milan.
And how very fortunate we are for this.
The Fight Back
Milan would fire their opening salvo late in the game (as they usually do), at the 70th minute.
It was then that Thor, the Goddess from Asgard, struck her first bolt into the back of Roma’s net.
Thor’s volley was great, but Refiloe Jane’s was even better. Jane got the equalizer for Milan after she hit an absolutely absurd shot that somehow found its way into the back of the net, in what was surely an ‘I meant to do that’ moment.
Admit it. That’s the best cross-turned-goal that you’ve ever seen.
Not to be outdone, of course, Thorvaldsdottir reminded all of us that she has Thor in her name, and went on to disprove the notion that lightning never strikes in the same place twice.
After what was initially a shot by Valentina Giacinti that ricocheted off the crossbars and somehow found its way onto the head of Begić, who then headed it towards goal, our very own Goddess of Thunder would, in turn, hit it into the back of the net.
Cue much celebration with a great sense of relief from the Milanisti. We not only won a crucial game but more importantly, we also kept our hopes of playing in next season’s Champions League alive as well.
It is living proof that hope does spring eternal, especially when you have a deity on your team.
Other cool things of note
Apparently, club legends Franco Baresi, Nelson Dida, and Mauro Tassotti were there to watch the match and to support the women.
Their presence somewhat softens the blow of the game being played at midday on a Monday (though Milan does bear responsibility for choosing that time slot for their women’s team, and should do better in the future to avoid this type of situation again).
Other not so cool things of note
Once again, there was drama. Because there is always drama whenever we play one of the other top teams in Serie A. Roma’s captain, Elisa Bartoli, posted a story to her Instagram where she implied that the referees let Milan get away with a handball.
However, her better judgment eventually kicked in, and she deleted that story. It’s a shame that the story was even posted to begin with, even if her anger over the loss was understandable.
The story was made in reference to the goal Thorvaldsdottir had scored at the 70th minute, and the fact that the ball may have accidentally bounced off of her arm in the build-up to it. The fact of the matter is, the referee of the match (Niccolò Turrini) was standing only a few yards away and didn’t see anything wrong with the said goal. Either his vision was obscured by one of the players (most likely by Roma’s Agnese Bonfantini), or he just didn’t see anything wrong with the way things played out. Either way, the goal stood in the end.
(For the record: I actually have a lot of respect for Elisa Bartoli, much in the same way that I still love the Juventus Women, despite all of the needless and irritating drama with them too. It’s just disappointing to see all of them create these unnecessary controversies when they should learn to be better and more mature about their disappointments, especially since they’re so intent on pushing concepts like ‘io tifo pulito’ too. If you’re going to advocate for ‘cheering clean’, then you must set a better example for people by not creating these pointless polemics when you drop points.)
There were also claims of offside goals, but those have since been disproved.
In this shot, you can see that one of Roma’s players was actually playing the Rossonere onside. So, therefore, Thorvaldsdottir was not in fact, offside when she scored the final goal of the game. In the end, the match winner was valid.
Women Of The Match
Thorvaldsdottir obviously earns this title. However, much respect should be given to our starting centre-back, Laura Fusetti, who had an absolute stormer of a match. As I said in the lead-up to this game, she was one to look out for, and she justified my faith in her with her performance. Her performance was so great that even the Romanisti were impressed by it.
Refiloe Jane also deserves a nod for her fantastic first goal, which was not only her first for Milan but it also made her the first South African to have scored a goal in Italy. She has no doubt, made her country proud, and had the best goal of the week too (even if the FIGC doesn’t think so).
Well done to these ladies, and to the rest of the Milan players for putting on a performance that we can all be proud of.
That Leads To The Time When The Comeback Kid Wins
Milan beat Roma by a score of 3-2. It mirrors the same score the Milan men beat Udinese by, just a day before. The two games also played out in an eerily similar fashion, as in both matches, Milan ended the first half a goal behind, thanks to two separate howlers by both of our goalkeepers. That led to an inevitable fightback by both teams, with the match winner being scored in the dying minutes of the game. It’s proof that there is a sense of equality among both Milan sides, as both teams are intent on making us all suffer.
But hey, at least we won at the end, and the great joy we all experienced more than made up for it.
As someone on Twitter pointed out, this will go down as one of the most memorable of the rimonte in Milan history.
3-2 come con l'Ajax con il gol di Pippo-Tomasson,3-2 come i rigori con la Juve a Manchester 2003,3-2 come il derby con l'Inter del 2004 con i gol rimonta di Clarence e Ricky,3-2 come ieri con Theo e Rebic,3-2 nel destino ⚫ #MilanRoma #FollowTheRossonere https://t.co/0RCfDj6fPy— Condorelliott (@IlfuEelst) January 20, 2020
It also says a lot that the Milan Women can induce these same kinds of emotions among the Rossoneri faithful. Though women’s football in Italy still has a way to go, the fact that it has gotten to the point where it produces the same, rich and ribald emotions in people is an indication of just how far it has come. That, my friends, is a good thing. As Juve’s Linda Sembrant said, it’s only going to continue to grow as well, and as the movement grows, people’s affection for these women will grow along with it.
Milan are now fourth on the Serie A table, and they still have a game in hand.
Our next game will be against the relegation-threatened Orobica Bergamo next Saturday, at 12 p.m CEST.
Milan if you recall, had beaten them earlier in the season by a score of 4-1. Milan’s performance against Bergamo is a stark contrast to the way they play against the other Serie A minnows, as the team usually has trouble scoring against them. Hopefully, the additions of Berglind and Begić will help redress that. Poor Bergamo might regret being on the receiving end of their firepower though.
Here’s to hoping that the team can keep the momentum going and secure a vital three points next Saturday.
For now, let’s just relive all of the happy moments and revel in the joy of a Milan win by watching the highlights down below.
Thanks, ladies, for once again making us proud.