Sunday November 11 2018
Pipita's night of pain

Gonzalo Higuain's desperation to make his mark for Milan against old club Juventus was ultimately his downfall, explains Giancarlo Rinaldi.

Football can be a brutal business at times. It deals only in winners and losers with little room for shades of grey. On Sunday night at the San Siro it was Gonzalo Higuain’s turn to feel its wrath.

This was HIS game, you see. In the match build-up, everyone of a red-and-black persuasion was anxious to know if he would be ready to face his old team. The player himself was clearly keen to prove Juve made a mistake when they shuffled him out to make room for Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer. But, instead, he fell flat on his face in front of his former teammates in the most spectacular style.

Desperate to take a penalty which could have reopened the game after Milan had fallen behind to a Mario Mandzukic header, he could only watch in despair as he was thwarted by Wojciech Szczesny. In the process, he gave more material to those who call into question his character in the biggest games.

He has a trophy cabinet more than large enough to silence anyone who makes such claims, but still this latest error will sting. In truth, at this stage of his career he is probably never going to change anybody’s mind one way or another.

But if things were already going badly, they would only get worse later in the game. A goal from Ronaldo rubbed salt in his wounds and then he reacted angrily to a foul given against him on Medhi Benatia.

There is probably a debate to be had over whether the Moroccan international should still have been on the pitch - he might have picked up a second yellow card for his handball which gave away the earlier penalty - but nonetheless Higuain’s reaction seemed exaggerated. In the heat of the moment we all make mistakes, of course, but he lost his head more spectacularly than most. A red card, and ensuing angry reaction, finished off a miserable night.

It was a sort of greatest hits package of Higuain's historic weaknesses: missed penalties in big games, losing his rag when things don't go his way.

In some ways, in the long term at least, Milan should be pleased. It shows just how much he wants to do well at the club and how desperate he was to score against the Bianconeri. However, in the short-term, the Rossoneri may well have to do without him for a wee while after the inevitable suspension he picks up - and that will only make his pain even greater.

Taking a wider look at the match, it is impossible to know if converting the penalty would have turned the tide in the home team’s favour. They gave everything they could - with some key players missing - but always looked a bit short of Juve’s standards. Rino Gattuso’s men tried to play with the character and style that had dragged them back up the table, but it rarely troubled the reigning champions. There was enough to suggest the Milanese giants can stay up towards the Champions League zone in Serie A but, for now, they are still some way off a Scudetto challenge.

As for Max Allegri’s team, this was a nice tonic after their disaster against Manchester United in Europe. It took them a long time to kill off their opponents and that must still be something of a concern. What is good enough to win games in Italy is not always sufficient in continental competition and they will have to produce a bit more if they hope to secure that much-desired prize in due course.

You couldn’t rule it out, though, with a team that has this kind of quality players at its disposal and a well-established winning habit. Yet another league title looks theirs for the taking and a crack at something bigger - if they can get all the elements to click. But don’t expect Gonzalo Higuain to be watching on the telly if they do get their hands on the Champions League trophy. He is sure to have switched off quite some time ago.

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Have your say...
Essentially it’s subjective whether it’s a pen or not because it’s the officials opinion whether it was deliberate hand ball. What isn’t subjective is the rules. The ref has 2 options 1. Give a pen and a yellow 2. Don’t give a pen. He chose the only option that is definitely wrong which was option to award a pen but not card Benatia. At Serie A level that’s not good enough. Not every pen results in a yellow card but a deliberate hand ball is a yellow. Do they have a rule book in the VAR office?
on the 13th November, 2018 at 10:59pm
@Giuseppe I thought we were talking about football, not about me. I see I was wrong.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 9:54pm
a Varsavia
1. So just like those others you are simply wrong. There are numerous examples of a penalty without a yellow card.
2. Higuain was never a victim in that situation. It might be debatable whether he received a yellow card but do you really think the referee was cheating here (83. minute, 0-2...)??
You are talking about a theater but actually you are the drama queen here.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 5:56pm
@ Sam Crow

I noticed that as well. Way too many back passes.

Reminds me of the bad side of Conte.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 4:25pm
Whilst I agree Rino has shown inexperience at times this year its hard to blame him for the poor football we've shown at times due to half his squad being on the treatment table. He can work on things in training but if hes constantly having to change his system/lineup its hard to implement any sort of style on this team. So far I see no reason to not continue with him, he has us 1 point off the top 4 with half his team available and an easy December coming up, add to that January reinforcements.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 2:59pm
@Madlini's Heir I agree this shouldnt happen but when we are still having to use Abate in 2018 (albeit no fault of our own) we genuinely are starting a game with a handicap

@AC Milan Fan so you wanted us to bank our entire season in which we really need to get UCL on a 20 year old youth product, Im sorry Cutrone is fantastic but this is ludicrous. What about when he inevitably becomes injured? The pressure on him this would cause could ruin his career. Absolutely ludicrous statement.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 2:56pm
This game just showed the reason juve dumped higuain. He is a great player and i have a lot of respect for him. In big matches he does not perform. I think if he had a decent showing at wc juve may not have even sold him. But when cr7 is available its not a decision you need to think twice about. Anyone who says otherwise is just a sad hater. Any team in the world given the opportunity will take ronaldo.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 12:48pm
I might be wrong but if it’s not a deliberate handball and therefore the ref decided not to book him then surely it’s not a penalty either? Maybe I’m wrong but doesn’t it need to intentional for the ref to award a penalty? From my perspective it’s about getting things right which should be easy if laws are clear. Juve Inter Cagliari who cares it’s about improving refereeing. Prob wasn’t even a pen due to proximity of players. Too many silly handball decisions this season already. It’s not hockey
on the 13th November, 2018 at 12:36pm
It’s a penalty but not a yellow card. It blocked the ball direction but not deliberately in a certain short distance. Nobody could escape a deliberate handball with VAR. Only biased Inter and Napoli losers think of that way. At least Juventus would not buy a traitor like De Vrij, the most disgusting player ever known, yes, more disgusting than Judas Figo.
It’s a good penalty but just not his day, period. Higuain is the best Milan player and out of Milan’s league.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 9:31am
It’s not a red it’s a yellow which happens to coincidentally lead to a dismissal because he had already been booked. De Sciglio was a mistake from ref too
on the 13th November, 2018 at 7:50am
@ Viktor If Milan is in the Champion's League next year, Italy's coefficient is in trouble. They look overwhelmed in the Europa League at times. They're not on par with Juve or Napoli, let alone Roma or Inter.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 2:57am
Gattuso needs to go. Sorry. I'm so sick and tired of the constant pass backs to the keeper when they have the ball in the attacking half. I'm more tired of Donnarumma constantly playing with the ball and putting the defenders in brutal situations and so much pressure that they're forced to play the ball in to touch and literally just give the opposition a free possession. If the coach doesn't see this and put a stop to it (which he obviously doesn't) he should be sacked!
on the 13th November, 2018 at 2:34am
to excessively calling Bergamo and Pairetto), misdemeanours that had never before resulted in anything more than fines or, at most, a minor points penalty.

Thus, according to the findings of the FIGC’s chief investigator in Calciopoli II trial in Naples, it is Inter, Milan and Livorno who should have been relegated in 2006 and not Juventus. But, due to the Statute of Limitations, there will be no further punishment.

I bet you don't know this because you're too busy act like a holy fan.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 2:16am
were found guilty of violating Article 6 of the Code of Sporting Justice including Milan and Livorno. Article 6 violations (the attempt to gain an advantage in the standings through match-fixing or attempted match-fixing) are deemed worthy of immediate relegation. And guess what??? Juventus were cleared of any Article 6 violations, and were only demoted due to a combination of Article 1 violations (unsportsmanlike conduct, which can be anything from swearing on the pitch...
on the 13th November, 2018 at 2:11am
I really love how the hypocrites are complaining about Benatia.

Yet just last season they were crying for weeks for a very similar penalty call on De Sciglio that went against them. That one was even more of a penalty since the distance was farther and De Sciglio's arm was higher.

If this one is a penalty then that one was a penalty as well. Make up your minds.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 2:06am
@ Hussain

Ah, evidently you're an Inter fan. It makes sense now. All Calcio fans know you all very well as hypocrite fans and bunch of whiners. Referees can make mistakes and only Inter and their fans react like a bunch of lunatics for that mistakes.

"If referees were favoring Inter I would have abandoned them..."

Well my dear, I suggest you to look at the latest evident of Calciopoli. Your "HOLY TEAM" were not just violating Article 1 of the Code of Sporting Justice but they also...
on the 13th November, 2018 at 2:03am
Juve are years ahead of Milan. This Milan team has been two years together. I like Gatusso but he does not have the experience. After spending all that money Milan should have brought in a proven coach. I like Higuain, sometimes things happen. He will help Milan get top 4 this year and they will get there.
on the 13th November, 2018 at 12:33am
Well it was a moment for Gonzo to show his allegiance to Milan and slap Juve back. He failed to beat Szczesny which no doubt effected him,and the game. Not that Juve wouldn’t have won, but twas ACM best chance to score and win.
Ya can clearly see the stress getting to Gonzo as his hair has been thinning at an insanely alarming rate past few seasons.
Poor Rino is coach in limbo. He’s a mortal trying to accomplish what only a Demigod can bring.
We’re nearing halfway point,is 6th place good nuff ?
on the 13th November, 2018 at 12:21am
But Gattuso has got us to 1 point off the CL so obviously we have to stick with him and hopefully he proves me wrong and/or becomes a better coach. He is, after all, still learning to be a Serie A coach. It's a shame he had to learn at Milan but there you go. It amuses me how people are saying that Higuain is the latest Milan player not to "have it". Like Bonucci he seems to have forgotten the art of winning at Milan. Or maybe Juve are just set up better to win. Still 1 point off CL so carry on.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 11:19pm
@ dami I agree with you to a certain degree but there's no forgiving the space that Sandro was given. The fact is both Suso and Abate were on him but just didn't close him down. The same happened in the derby. And the teams that Milan have played against this season including supposedly weaker teams have managed to do the exact same to Milan. The fact is Milan started that game and most games with a handicap. Juve have a better coach. They have better players but more importantly a better coach.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 11:17pm
My point is De Sciglio also did not get a card for a similar offense in 2017. Atalanta's Mancini did not get one either earlier in the day. It's a little hard to believe so many refs don't know the rules.
On a different note, handball rules are not really clear. I believe according to the common practice Benatia's handball was a penalty. But I'm not sure he could've done anything there to get his hand out of the way.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 9:22pm
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has published changes to the laws of the game for the 2016/17 season, the most notable altering sending-off offences inside the penalty.

The previous 'triple-punishment' rule meant that a player who denied a goal-scoring opportunity was automatically red-carded and handed a suspension, as well as giving away a penalty.

However, the law has now changed so that players committing accidental fouls, that deny a goal-scoring opportunity, are not automatically sent off
on the 12th November, 2018 at 8:19pm

7-10 AHHAHAHAHHA, they are going to play in CL next year don't worry.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 8:17pm
@Giuseppe 1. As others said, penalty should go with y.c.;
2. I agree with Higuain he was a VICTIM of a foul, so no free kick for Juve nor y.c. for Gonzalo (nor red).
After this kind of refereeing I more believe the plays are just well played theather for the mass (or the betting companies).
on the 12th November, 2018 at 8:12pm
@Dennis: Totally agree. If that was a penalty it's because it was deliberate and there should have been a yellow as it was a goal-scoring opp. Spineless ref at best.

Higuain was a Milan waste of money and time. He IS a choker. Cutrone should have been seen a the starter from go and a backup should have been brought in for him. Now he'll have at least one game all to himself. Over the years Milan has become adept at wasting their youth talent in favor of mediocre free agents and loaners. Sad.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 8:02pm
There is no more double jeopardy. You cannot get a penalty AND a red card. If Benatia had been outside the penalty area it could be a free kick and red card, but here it was a penalty and thats it. Previously a last man foul in the penalty area meant penalty and red card but not anymore. You dont really see red cards for goalkeepers - it was pretty common before.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 7:42pm
Wait wait wait, there is actually an inter fan talking about cheating hahahahaha hahahahah you do know that the reason for your team sucking is yourselves. You created this mess now swim and drown in it.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 7:11pm
Ron: The rule is that a penalty can only be awarded if a handball is determined to be deliberate. Therefore the ref thought it was a deliberate handball. This is punished with a booking. Was it a penalty? Maybe. It was either no pen no card or pen and card. The ref was wrong and should know the rules surely. Bad error really?
on the 12th November, 2018 at 6:51pm
Thought penalty call on Benatia was harsh. Not entirely sure what he can do to move his hand away after Higuain flicked the ball up from so close. Nobody could deliberatly move their hand that quick. Was a similar situation with Zapata on a corner, where he handled from a close range Chiellini flick on. When you slow down replays for VAR everything looks worse and the ref should consider distance.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 6:35pm
I feel bad for Higuain, he didn't deserve a night like this. But he will always be considered a great striker.

He had every right to leave Napoli for Juve, the environment there was toxic with ADL on the helm. Plus, 3 seasons was enough to realize he should move to better things.
Wouldn't any of you accept a promotion to a better job, especially if your boss was terrible? That's what he did.

And he didn't really miss the penalty, it was a great shot.
It just wasn't his day.
on the 12th November, 2018 at 5:14pm

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