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Goalkeepers are known for longevity, but Pepe Reina seems to have been around forever.
He’s played for some of Europe’s great clubs, winning a host of major trophies along the way, and is now plying his trade at the ripe old age of 37 for Italian giants – or is that “slumbering giants”? – AC Milan.
For the most part at San Siro, he has served as backup to the prodigious Gigi Donnarumma, but got an opportunity in the first-team on Saturday night in Genoa after the younger man pulled out of the squad due to stomach problems. In what would turn out to be a rollercoaster evening for Reina – and for everyone else – rossoneri supporters were reminded just before half-time as to why the Spaniard is number two.
With 40 minutes on the clock, Danish midfielder Lasse Schone stepped up to take a free-kick from what looks about 25 yards out. He didn’t strike it well, but Pepe was in a generous mood:
Most would agree Reina has the odd error in him, but that’s fairly dreadful and the former Liverpool man looked suitably apologetic.
The match then got a little hectic, with Genoa’s Riccardo Saponara sent off in first-half injury time despite not being on the pitch. He was followed into the early bath by team-mate Davide Biraschi, who was dismissed after 57 minutes after handling the ball inside his own box, leaving his side with 10 men on the pitch and facing a penalty.
Milan, who’d equalised prior to their opponents’ second red, took full advantage of the situation and Franck Kessie converted the spot-kick. They then controlled the game for 20 minutes before generously evening up the numbers with a red card of their own for Davide Calabria.
Still, that wasn’t a huge deal until the 89th minute, when Pepe decided to leave another indelible mark on the game:
Thankfully for Reina, it all worked out in the end. As for Schone, who missed the penalty – well, you win some and you lose some.
Oh, and even after that drama, there was still time for Milan’s Samu Castillejo to take a leaf out of Saponara’s book and earn a red while not on the field of play.
How do you say “scenes” in Italian?