It was the week of El Shaarawy.
On Sunday the Rossoneri played to a 1-1 draw with local rivals Inter Milan, but despite scoring first, controlling much of the play and creating the best scoring chances, AC Milan were prevented from taking all three points by both Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and their own lack of finishing.
Not that El Shaarawy can be put into the latter category (Mario Balotelli can’t say the same). The 20-year-old Italy international picked up right where he left off against Barcelona in the Champions League, where he was the best player in a memorable win over the Catalan giants despite the fact he didn’t score a single goal.
Against Inter, he combined the overall play—particularly off the ball—he demonstrated against Barcelona with a finishing clinic of the finest quality.
After running into space between Nerazzurri defenders Juan Jesus and Yuto Nagatomo, El Shaarawy did ever so well to control an exquisite ball played by Kevin-Prince Boateng after his teammate had stripped Antonio Cassano of possession. With the Juan and Nagatomo hanging off his shoulders, he still managed to poke the ball goalwards with the outside of his boot, and Handanovic—who was excellent on the night—was in no position to stop it.
The only unfortunate thing from a Milan point of view is that they couldn’t build on the lead once they’d taken it. Balotelli, in particular, had chances to extend the advantage, but whether because of a slip in the goalmouth or terrific Handanovic save, he was denied time and again.
That left the door open for Inter to hit back, and after making a tactical change at the interval (Nagatomo swapped flanks with Javier Zanetti), they managed to turn what had threatened to become a lopsided affair into a contest.
And while Ezequiel Schelotto’s header was a worthy equalizer, Milan will feel they could have got more from this match than a single point. Balotelli will be especially frustrated.
El Shaarawy, meanwhile, can hold his head high. What a few days it’s been for him. One can only imagine what he’s got in store as his career continues to flourish.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!