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It may have been a while but it finally came, a Milan performance characterised by grit and determination that almost translated into an unlikely win.  In the lead up to this match, given Milan’s recent poor form and their humiliating loss to Real Madrid two weeks ago, many pundits, including myself, wrote off Milan’s chances in this game.

Yet, Milan were only one minute away from claiming a momentous victory.  Had it not been for the dagger placed into the hearts of the Milan tifosi by the young Pedro Leon, a victory it would have been. But, it was not to be on this most in captivating night of European football.

For Milan, the hero of the night was of course Pippo Inzaghi, or more appropriately SuperPippo. At the age of 37 years old, Pippo added yet another chapter to an already incredible career.

Inzaghi’s two goals were almost enough to deliver Milan a glorious win over one of the most in form European teams today. Though they were not enough for Milan to claim all three points, Inzaghi’s two goals were enough for him to claim the number one spot as the player who has scored more goals in Europe than any other player in history.

But it was not the personal records that Pippo Inzaghi set on the night that he will be remembered for by the home crowd. It was his undeniable passion and relentless determination that from the moment he took the field he had already helped change the complexion of the game.

Down by a goal to nil, Max Allegri has to be applauded for making the bold decision before the hour to pull off the completely ineffective Ronaldinho and replace him with Milan’s legendary number 9. It was proved a masterstroke of a substitution.

For Milan, it was not just Inzaghi that displayed the kind of character that used to typify Milan performances. Gennaro Gattuso was the other veteran who played with fire in his belly.

At times, it was almost as if the Rino of old had appeared from nowhere has he hustled, tackled and won back possession time after time. It was a performance distinguished with intent and hunger. Where this all came from remains unknown, but perhaps Max Allegri can be given more credit here as since his arrival Gattuso’s form has been steadily improving.

Unfortunately for Milan, the attacking trio of Ibrahimovic, Pato and Ronaldinho failed to display the same kind of passion exhibited by Milan’s old guard.

Ronaldinho in particular was completely useless. It is not only his poor performance that for Milan fans is hard to accept. It was his complete lack commitment that not for the first time he exhibited. If the likes of Inzaghi and Gattuso can still put in such gritty displays, given their respective ages and career successes, there can be no excuses for the Brazilian.

Ibrahimovic, despite setting Inzaghi up for Milan’s first goal, was also largely ineffective. The Swede is in the prime of his career, or at least should be, he possesses bundles of talent, yet he seems more happy to just stroll around the pitch rather than getting involved. If he wants to just waltz around the forward line, then he will have to be more clinical if he wants to avoid criticism.

Despite the heroic performances of Gattuso, Inzaghi along with the stellar displays of Thiago Silva, Ignazio Abate and Kevin Prince, it has to be said that Milan were awful in the first half. Mourinho’s side completely dominated the first half, in terms of possession and attempts on goal and the Rossoneri were lucky to only be a goal down at the break.

Greeted by a huge roar from the home crowd, Milan really only began to assert themselves after the introduction of Inzaghi just before the hour. It really was at this point that the complexion of the game changed.

In the end it may not have been the three points Milan needed. It was, however, a display that will give much hope to the Rossoneri faithful as Milan’s veteran’s showed that in spite of their age they still can deliver inspired performances, if only it is a draw they can muster.

If Milan’s ‘star’ players can only take note and learn that football is a team game, then perhaps things may change for the better for Milan this season.

To finish on a positive, credit must be given to Allegri. It was his most convincing performance as manager to date, as he showed courage and tactical astuteness in the changes that he readily made. To do this in what was easily the biggest match of his short career augurs well for Milan.

Make sure to listen to this week’s La Liga Weekly podcast which gave a run down of this contest between two legendary Champions League clubs.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Jay Scardina says:

    It was a tough match, and Inzaghi is a class act. He always comes on to make a difference. Totti should learn from his lead.

    • Tigani says:

      Inzaghi is an amazing striker. He always gets into scoring positions. A true legend and one of the most under-rated players.

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