Pioli analyses the positives from ‘really tough’ Napoli draw and explains Ibrahimovic’s fury

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli praised his side for the resolve and resilience they showed to earn a draw against Napoli on Sunday night.

Milan picked up a hard-fought point on the road at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday night, coming from behind to emerge with a 2-2 scoreline.

The Rossoneri took the lead against the run of play thanks to Theo Hernandez’s powerful volley into the roof of the net, but the home side hit back through goals from Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Dries Mertens.

Nonetheless, Pioli’s side would secure a point as Franck Kessie converted a penalty in his 100th Serie A appearance for the club, dispatching from 12 yards after Giacomo Bonaventura had been fouled.

Substitute Alexis Saelemaekers saw red late on after he was booked twice in quick succession, but Milan saw the game out to stay seventh in the table and two points behind Gennaro Gattuso’s side.

After the game, Pioli spoke to Sky Italia and admitted that his side were fatigued after such a tough run of recent games.

“It was tough, really tough, as after Lazio and Juventus, we’ve had a really difficult run of games against the best teams in the league, but we showed that we were up to the task,” he said (via Football Italia).

“When you get results and put in strong performances against this kind of opponent, it really boosts your confidence. We scored a great goal to take the lead, we fought back to equalise and a point is a good result.

“It takes time to get a team working in a smooth way and with everyone aware of what they need to do. We didn’t have the time to achieve that, now we have and the results are positive, so it’s only right that we now raise the bar and keep aiming higher.

“It’s difficult playing every three days, as I had some players at the final whistle tonight who were just wrecked. We’ve got to keep going.

“It’s true that we take some risks by defending so deep, but it’s a calculated risk and this may well be the first goal we’ve conceded in these situations. There are dangers and advantages to both approaches, we should’ve been more careful in covering the space.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was spotted on the sidelines shouting and looking furious, and he put in a below-par performance scoring a four out of 10 in our player ratings.

“Ibra was angry because we were losing, we’d just conceded a goal and he always expects the best from himself and others.”

Pioli was once again asked about his future amid rumours Ralf Rangnick is edging closer to being officially named as the club’s new manager.

“Everyone asks me, but I am not thinking about the future. I am at a big club, I am training players who are doing so much and the decisions will be made in August.

“It’s too important to focus now on ending the season on a high note. It’s tough for coaches too with a game every three days, so I cannot be wasting energy on something that is frankly out of my control.

“I prefer to focus on what I can control, so training these lads and preparing for the games.”

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli
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