Stefano Pioli defended Rafael Leao’s performance and discussed AC Milan’s struggles at home as he assessed the 2-1 win over Genoa.
Milan did not make things easy for themselves this afternoon as they scraped past Genoa. Ante Rebic gave the Rossoneri the lead with a thunderous half volley but Mattia Destro levelled before the break with a header from a corner.
In the end it would be an own-goal that would give Milan all three points as reported target Gianluca Scamacca diverted a corner into his own net to ensure that the Diavolo will remain second in the league for a little while longer.
Pioli was interviewed by Sky Italia after the game at San Siro, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
“The fact of not winning for a long time at home has created a little more tension. It hurts us when you don’t take advantage of the opportunities to close the game. At 2-0 the game would have changed, we had 3/4 set pieces in the final that had to be exploited better. The important thing is to be a team, to suffer in difficult moments and today we succeeded,” he said.
On Mandzukic: “When you have an important exam you have to prepare well, we did it. Mario is a strong player on a mental level as well, I’m happy because in the next matches he will have to suffer.”
A lot of the media attention in the build-up to the game was centred around how Leao would fare as a centre-forward, but he was once again kept quiet and did not manage to score.
On Leao: “He had two good chances, he moved well, sometimes we didn’t serve him at the right time. In my opinion he had a good match, in the end I thought I needed more physicality in the middle and I put Mandzukic.”
On the difficulties at home: “The opponents who created difficulties for us were many, but it is part of the season. In terms of quality we lacked in the opposing area, it was one of the few home games where we took the lead.
“I don’t look so much at the calendars of others, but ours is very demanding. Sassuolo has great qualities, then either direct clashes or teams fighting for survival. It’s quality that will make the difference, we have to make fewer mistakes. If you miss the last step you have to chase right away, our level of play will have to be high to maintain this position in the ranking.”