AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli believes that conceding after just five minutes was what spelt bad news for his side in the 3-0 derby defeat to Inter.
The defeat means that Milan are now four points adrift of their rivals from across the Navigli and the trip to face Roma coming up all of a sudden becomes big for Champions League qualification.
Inter got off to the ideal start as they took the lead inside the first few minutes through Lautaro Martinez, and he doubled the advantage early in the second-half too from Ivan Perisic’s cut-back.
Samir Handanovic was in inspired form for the Nerazzurri and made several key saves to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sandro Tonali and later Hakan Calhanoglu, and Romelu Lukaku’s goal on the break to make it 3-0 would ultimately kill the game off.
Pioli spoke to DAZN after the defeat, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
On what hurt the most: “The goal immediately after 5 minutes. We struggled to find quality and intensity. We allowed Inter to wait and leave. We weren’t able to score in our best moment, we deserved to draw level. On the second goal we had to stop their action first.”
On Ibrahimovic: “It is clear that a centre-forward is conditioned by the performance of the team. Handanovic hadn’t saved so much and so well for a while. It has been a difficult week but we will recover.”
On the lack of quality: “We weren’t so aggressive because we didn’t want to open up too much and give him too many one-on-one. It is not easy to go there and take the ball away from them.”
Is it a complicated time with young players? “Our strength has always been balance and belief in our work. If we had been told a year ago that we would now be second in the standings, we would all have jumped for joy, but now we have to be calm.
“Surely we must not forget our path, this must teach us that we must do something more. The bad night was that of Spezia, not today. Sorry for the fans but we played the game. We have to raise the level of many situations that have been below in these matches. When you lose you have to work harder and work well.”
Is there a physical issue at the moment? “The data we have is not inferior to our opponents. We were the only team to play the preliminaries, now the players who played more due to injuries have played too much, while the others have to play more to find the condition. But these are situations that can be there in a season. The first really bad week of this season, next Thursday we should be better than our opponents to go through and then think about the season.”
Ibra’s change: “He asked for a change due to a cramp in his calf, he was no longer able to carry on. Then we’ll see what choices to make for Thursday and Sunday.”