AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli praised his side for their battling spirit in a ‘well deserved’ victory over lowly SPAL on Thursday night.
The Rossoneri avoided a Halloween surprise with a narrow 1-0 win at San Siro as substitute Suso’s trademark free-kick just after the hour mark proved to be the decisive moment in the game.
Pioli’s first win as Milan boss sees his side move into the top half of the table and six points behind Roma in fourth ahead of tough games against Lazio, Juventus and Napoli.
Pioli spoke to Milan TV after the game, revealing his relief at a hard-fought three points.
“The matches are all different. Lecce had waited longer, but we were able to create more,” he said, via MilanNews.it.
“SPAL kept the pace high in the first half, but we knew they could not last the whole game with those rhythms. We have been good and clear despite some mistakes. We have shown a desire to fight and to suffer.
“I am happy for the boys. We are working a lot and we regretted not having brought home the positive results that I think we deserved. Winning the matches in Serie A is never easy. On Sunday we expect an important match, we will have to prepare well.
“There are no easy games, they always make you suffer. Unfortunately we did not close it and we came to the end with the result still open.
“This time we were more careful in the final stages, it was a deserved victory. With this spirit we can take away so much satisfaction.”
Pioli decided to make four changes to the starting line-up that lost in Rome last weekend, and he explained his decisions.
“My choices are never failures, I have to make the right choices based on the game. On Sunday I will make other changes, I think.
“Everyone must always be ready, someone today has been out and was not happy, but I’m happy with this. We need to keep going and keep working.
“We must always feel the need for victory. I asked the players if they were happy after the victory. If we want to be happy, we must win again.”
Samu Castillejo was preferred over Suso in the right-wing position but the pair were swapped not long after half time.
“Everyone ate grass today,” Pioli explained.
“We can’t go backwards, in football we fight and chase each other, whoever stops can’t play. We have to run.”