AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has revealed that he hugged midfielder Sandro Tonali after the win against Benevento.
Milan took back top spot in the Serie A table from rivals Inter after a battling 2-0 win in which they played most of the game with ten men.
The Rossoneri took an early lead as Ante Rebic was fouled inside the box and Franck Kessie despatched the penalty, but before the break Tonali was shown a red card for what was adjudged to be a high boot after VAR review.
In the end it would not matter as Milan would go on to seal the three points thanks to a fantastic chip from Rafael Leao, and Gianluca Caprari’s missed penalty also gave the team a hand.
Pioli was interviewed by Sky Italia after the win against Benevento, with his words transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
On Leao: “Rafa has enormous potential, I’m happy he’s confirming it more consistently than last season. He’s young, we need patience but we expect a lot.”
On what Leao has improved: “We are insisting that he has to start attacking the spaces without the ball, he is very good with the ball. He has to unmark himself well, then he has the qualities as demonstrated tonight.
“It’s a tactical and mental job, he has to learn to work during the game with mental intensity, to understand movements and spaces, each player must make the most of his characteristics, he is fast and technical.”
On the success: “Another heavy victory, we put our heart into it.”
On the table: “We don’t let the pressure of the opponents put pressure on us, we put the pressure on ourselves. We were not happy with how we started the game, then there was great attention and compactness. All the victories are big for a young group like ours. Now let’s go see Juventus and get ready for Wednesday.”
🤩 Gets better every time we watch it…pic.twitter.com/njP1hk8y6R
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) January 3, 2021
On Tonali: “I hugged him in the locker room, he was sorry for the mistake. With the VAR all the fouls seem dangerous and violent, but it was the dynamics of the game, Tonali will learn from this intervention.
“Like the penalty against Lazio, Kalulu him he touches, but in the dynamics he jumps and then he touches him. Sandro will learn from this situation, he had lost the ball and missed the control, a player like him can do better and will certainly learn.”
On Juventus: “It will be a good match, I continue to say that Juve, Inter and Napoli are the strongest in the league. We have to think game after game, we enjoy the victory and we will prepare for the next match.
“We are talking about a team that has won nine league titles in a row, it is not a decisive match. We will have to look at our ranking in April, our strength is to think about the next match. Let’s not forget that we are playing against Juventus and we miss important players. We will play for it, it will not be one decisive game and it will not be a handover.”
On the team: “The spirit of the boys is one of our secrets, we win games because we have quality, we win them because we make one more run-up, even the most talented. If everyone makes an effort we can achieve important results. We are ambitious, we will try to win the next game too.”