In an unpredictable twist on the football pitch, striker Olivier Giroud traded his usual role to guard Milan’s net, proving once again that football is a game where anything can happen. This unexpected move during Milan’s encounter with Genoa was more than just a tactical decision; it was a moment that highlighted Giroud’s versatility and commitment to the team. On a night where each minute was packed with suspense, the Frenchman’s brief goalkeeping stint became the talking point, transcending the boundaries of regular match analysis and entering the realm of legendary football anecdotes.
The Shirt That Sold Out
Hours after the game, fans went into a frenzy to get their hands on the Milan goalkeeper jersey with Giroud’s name and number. This unexpected surge in demand even caught the attention of football legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Taking to Instagram, he humorously noted:
“I want this shirt…Never too late to find your real position.” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Yet, how did a world-class striker end up guarding the posts?
The Twist in the Tale
Milan was leading 1-0 against Genoa when, in the closing moments, their primary goalie Mike Maignan was shown the red card. The situation was precarious. The substitution cards had already been played, the most recent being the 17-year-old prodigy Davide Bartesaghi replacing Luka Jovic.
But what led to Maignan’s expulsion? In a bid to intercept a high ball, he collided with Caleb Ekuban, a decision which the Genoa president didn’t mince words about:
“Un’entrata assassina… I say this as a doctor.” – Alberto Zangrillo, Genoa President
Maignan, reflecting on his controversial move, expressed regret on social media, hinting at the pressure and split-second decision-making goalkeepers often have to employ.
The Decisive Moment
With the clock ticking and a void in the goal, up stepped Olivier Giroud, Milan’s frontline striker, to guard the net. Why Giroud? The answer is simple: his towering 6ft 4in presence.
But the drama was far from over.
|Christian Pulisic scores for Milan
|Maignan sent off
|Giroud dons the gloves
|Josep Martínez sent off for Genoa
|Giroud’s heroic save
Genoa’s Josep Martínez, in a series of events almost as bizarre as Giroud’s goalkeeping stint, received his marching orders in the 92nd minute. Just moments before that, he’d been appealing for a foul.
With both teams’ starting goalkeepers sent off, the game entered the record books, marking the first such occurrence in Serie A in over three decades.
Giroud’s Defining Moment
It was the 104th minute when Genoa, with one last push, saw George Puscas delivering a pass to Ekuban. As the ball floated over Milan’s defense, it seemed a certain goal. But, against all odds, Giroud, eyes closed, lunged forward, deflecting the ball just enough. The Milan commentary team couldn’t resist but modify their usual chant, celebrating Giroud’s unexpected goalkeeping prowess.
As the dust settled and Milan celebrated their narrow 1-0 win, Giroud reflected on his brief but impactful goalkeeping stint, revealing a childhood affinity for the role. His emotions post-save were akin to scoring a crucial goal.
Further bolstering Milan’s morale was the fact that their victory, combined with Inter’s draw against Bologna, meant they now sat alone at Serie A’s summit.
A Look Ahead
Beyond this unforgettable game, Milan’s journey this season has been noteworthy. Following a heavy defeat to their city rivals a month prior, they’ve tightened their defenses, conceding just once in the subsequent six matches. However, Maignan’s potential suspension could pose challenges.
But, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Should Milan ever find themselves in another goalkeeping crisis, they know they have an unlikely hero ready to step up. And this time, he might even have his own goalkeeper jersey.