Pioli insists Milan are ‘finding an identity’; praises Gabbia’s debut and explains Ibra’s anger

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli was pleased with his side’s showing in their narrow victory over Torino, despite their inability to kill the game off.

Milan got back to winning ways on Monday night at San Siro with a 1-0 win over struggling Torino. Rather predictably it was Ante Rebic who established himself as the difference maker once again, netting his sixth goal of the calendar year so far in the first half to fire the Rossoneri to another much-needed win.

Ultimately though the home side were wasteful as they missed a number of opportunities on the break, though it would not matter in the end against a largely toothless Granata side.

The result means that Milan move up to eighth in the table, level on points with sixth-placed Hellas Verona as well as Parma in seventh, and it also condemned the visitors to a fifth straight league defeat.

Pioli spoke to Sky Italia after the game regarding his side’s performance, and his words were transcribed by MilanNews.it.

“Tonight’s result was good but also the performance, we are finding an identity. We risked very little. We have many points available, now I will go home and see Sampdoria-Fiorentina,” he said.

“I am absolutely satisfied with the performance after a week where we had spent a lot of energy. I am receiving good answers, they were there tonight too.

“I had asked for an important effort, I knew we could suffer. We also suffered because of us because we could immediately end the game in the second half.”

Pioli already addressed rumours about his future beyond June at Milan in his pre-match press conference, but he was asked again after the game.

“Our job is to always be under scrutiny. You always have to demonstrate. Tonight is nothing if we don’t do well on Saturday too. You can’t think about the future now, there is still so much to do, the future will be decided at the end of the season.”

On Ibrahimovic: “He was angry because we could have done better and ended the game earlier. We can do better and it is right to be ambitious for our growth.”

Kjaer was forced off having pulled up after clearing a ball for a corner with Andrea Belotti on his shoulder. The decision was made fairly quickly to take him off, and Milan TV (via MilanNews) are reporting that he sustained a muscle problem in the left flexor.

The natural substitute would have been Mateo Musacchio of course, but Pioli has cleared up why he didn’t come on.

“He told me he had a muscle problem during the warm-up.”

That gave the chance for Matteo Gabbia to make his Serie A debut for the Diavolo.

“I am happy, he has always worked with availability, he is young but reliable,” Pioli said on the 20-year-old.

“He is working well, he came on with courage and conviction, he deserves this satisfaction. When you work like this then you are rewarded.”

Stefano Pioli was forced to alter his plans on the day of the game as Hakan Calhanoglu missed out with a muscle problem; Lucas Paqueta coming in to replace him as the trequartista in the only change from Thursday’s draw with Juventus.

“That is the role of Calhanoglu, I really like him there, he works a lot and he knows how to shoot. I think Paquetà and Bonaventura can also do it very well,” he said.

“Can Paqueta become a great player? I think so, he has all the space to become one. He cannot be a fully mature player yet, but remember that he is a Brazilian national team player.”

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