Pioli praises Milan’s match-winners in Rennes game but insists tie is ‘not over’

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli compared Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, while praising Rafael Leao for the work he did even when he wasn’t scoring.

In truth the Milan boss could hardly be happier with how the first leg of the tie went for his side, given that they will take a three-goal advantage to Brittany next week and have a foot in the last 16.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the man of the night yet again as he scored a brace thanks to headers either side of half-time. The first was a brilliant glancing effort after a pinpoint Alessandro Florenzi cross, and the second was a rebound after Mandanda kept out a Simon Kjaer header.

Rafael Leao certainly scored the goal of the game as he fired in a cut-back from Theo Hernandez after he had found the full-back initially with a brilliant backheel.

Pioli spoke to Sky after the game to reflect on what was a very positive night for his side and a good way to follow up the victory against Napoli, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

How do you assess the performance?

“I think it’s useless to talk about the Champions League any longer. Since the disappointment of the elimination we have set ourselves an objective, which is to do our best. Tonight’s match wasn’t easy, they’re doing well on the pitch. They were in a great moment in form. We took the advantage we wanted, but it’s not over yet.”

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was decisive again…

“He had some physical problems and was playing without training. He has significant physical power which he must be well to exploit. He can also give us a lot of satisfaction in terms of scoring.

“I found him to be more attacking and with even more quality. I saw him as a box-to-box player, but not with all this quality and physicality. He reminds me of Milinkovic-Savic, I’m happy for him because he’s really amazing.”

Rafael Leao returned to scoring…

“It’s normal for someone to miss out on goals, but I’ve always seen him calm and happy. Even when he didn’t score he was always present. We would like him to be inside the area more, but he’s doing it more. The important thing is is that the team wins and he has always been a protagonist in the team’s victories.

“Leao will always look for fun and aesthetics because he is a player like that. But he knows well what he needs to improve in. He must always try one-on-one. His improvement must lead him to be more attacking, to be more in the area and therefore score more goals.”

How would you judge Milan’s moment?

“It’s a good moment, but in football you should never relax. We’re doing well in 2024. Sunday will be difficult, but we’re in good spirits. We have to continue like this.”


Tags AC Milan Milan Rennes Stefano Pioli


    1. thinkig like that is what can give rennes a way back. they need to go to fra at 100% and hit 2 goals as soon as able. no def the lead bs

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