AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli was pleased with how his side responded to talk of a mini crisis by beating Genoa 3-0 tonight to end their three-match winless run in Serie A.
In the end it was a fairly routine win for Milan against their hosts who are really struggling this season having not won in over two months and remain rooted in the bottom three despite Andriy Shevchenko’s arrival. A free-kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic got the ball rolling as he rolled back the years with a 25-yard free-kick.
Junior Messias continued his excellent form by netting a brace either side of half-time, and that enabled the Rossoneri to coast to an important three points but perhaps even more significantly a clean sheet and a result that – thanks to Napoli surrendering a late equaliser – closes the gap to the top to one point.
“He was the only player who sent me the message for the renewal saying ‘congratulations mister deserved but now we have to win’. It is an important season, in which we can have the satisfaction even if our opponents are strong,” he said.
“Tonight we had the right reaction. Ibrahimovic is very important. His arrival has improved everyone a bit but his team-mates have also been good at accepting his way of doing things. He too has to thank his team-mates because he is back as the strong player he was a few years ago. They work when everyone works together. Zlatan has given so much but he has also received so much.”
On the match itself, he added: “If we do not have the ball we must try to recover it as soon as possible. Today we did it all together, if we don’t all run it is a problem. If you have these times of pressure, surely you have an approach to the game with more determination and concentration.
“Messias, Krunic and Diaz were good at not giving points of reference as well as Ibrahimovic at varying on the attack. The important thing is to have all the positions covered. We played the right game.”
Junior Messias now has three goals in his last three games as he netted a nice double tonight.
“The hierarchies change constantly. I am lucky to have many strong players, for me they are all starters. If we play Kessie, Tonali, Bennacer or Bakayoko it is the same for me. Messias is the player I expected, he had some problems and he is resumed and if you played like this in Crotone you can also do it in Milan,” Pioli added.
“There are intelligent and unintelligent players, he is part of the first category. A strong team like Milan offers 3-4 players, we have studied them all and we thought that he could have been the right one. He can grow further and has quality. Today he scored two important and not easy goals. I’m happy for him.”
On Saturday’s game against Salernitana: “The match will not be easy, play well. Let’s enjoy the victory but it will be a difficult and angular match against a team that is very well.”
Finally, Pioli spoke about the condition of Kjaer as he was taken off on a stretcher during the first half.
“We always have a sour note, I hope Kjaer has nothing serious. He had a sprained knee, he’s a leader and I hope he won’t be out long. I removed Gabbia because he was booked, we were in control and I didn’t want to risk putting the game into question. We recover Romagnoli and Kalulu can play there too – we will find the right solutions.”