So on Wednesday night, at the unlikely time of 21.15, we played AC Milan in the second leg of the Italian Cup semifinal. We'd drawn 2-2 at their place, they'd gone 2-0 up in a stonking opening 20 minutes then faded totally as we came determinedly back into the game, and with our 2 away goals we were nicely set up for the home leg. And nearly 40,000 people were there on a cold midweek night which was pleasing, given the declining attendances in Italian football generally and also the declining prestige of this competition (something I personally think is a great shame).
And we scored after just 8 minutes, a calamitous defensive error from Billy Costacurta (a sprightly 41) letting Mancini score a remarkably easy goal (Costacurta's zimmer frame turning rather slowly). And though Gila got one back for them some ten minutes later, and they had a short period of liveliness, they never really looked like getting properly back in the game. Five minutes after their Totti created a fantastic chance for himself out of nowhere which Dida incredibly managed to save but could do nothing about Perrotta picking up an easy tap in off the rebound: 2-1.
Costacurta came off for new signing Oddo at half time - and the ex-Lazio captain was given a predictably warm welcome back to the Olimpico. And within 2 minutes Pizarro - clear man of the match - had scored an amazing goal, dribbling apprently aimlessly in a casual fashion up the left before wellying it in from outside the area. Have some of that. Gattuso came on for the largely ineffectual Pirlo but to no effect, on the contrary, Mancini winning a penalty a few minutes later. Totti somehow managed to miss AGAIN - that's his 5th missed pen of the season. Perhaps the importance of the one he scored in June has temporarily wiped his circuits. The fourth goal would have been nice and indeed justified by the difference in calibre of our play... we outclassed them in every department. Even Pippo Inzaghi failed to make any impact for them.
And though it should have been 4 (or even more!) 3-1 is a great result against Milan, and the Curva Sud was in excellent voice. As opposed to the milanisti who were almost inaudible. We looked back to our pre-Christmas best, putting together nice flowing moves, creating space, keeping possession much better and with proper support for Totti from Mancini, Taddei and Perrotta. De Rossi worked really hard as well, still some doubts over Ferrari but with Mexes out for perhaps a month with a minor fracture in his foot we have to hope that our ex-evertonian grows in confidence and that De Rossi's increased defensive responsibilities don't stop him from being able to contribute to attacking moves as well.
Have some ultras stuff to blog about, maybe tomorrow. I can't resist telling you about the embroidered caps worn by the Ultras Primavalle, which show an almost english taste for wordplay along with an italian respect for regional cookery: "Calci in bocca alla romana" they proclaim. Is it wrong to find this very funny? [Saltimbocca alla romana is the famous veal/sage/ parma ham speciality, literally 'jump in the mouth'. Calci in bocca means kick(s) in the mouth. As hoolie humour goes it's relatively smart.]
Oh yeah and in some other cup semi taking place contemporaneously, Arsenal were beating Spurs. Happy fucking days, as a northern irishman of my acquaintance would doubtless say. Giving Milan a thorough going over whilst Arsenal triumph over the north london forces of darkness is as good as a Wednesday night in January is likely to get, I reckon.