Head coach Stefano Pioli has expressed his delight that his side managed to secure a vital win against Parma, and elaborated on the Zlatan Ibrahimovic red card.
Milan were in a great position at half-time thanks to goals from Ante Rebic and Franck Kessie, but things threatened to unravel when Ibra saw red after saying something to referee Fabio Maresca, and Parma halved the deficit not long after.
The Rossoneri not only held on for the three points but they secured them thanks to a late goal on the break from substitute Rafael Leao, to move seven points clear of Napoli in fifth place for the time being, although they will play tomorrow as will Roma, Atalanta and Juventus.
Pioli spoke to Sky Italia after the full-time whistle and leapt to the defence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic while expressing his pleasure that the team bounced back from a bad result against Sampdoria.
“I like it when my players reflect our feelings. With Sampdoria we didn’t play as AC Milan and we wanted to show we can do better. He wasn’t an easy opponent to face. We messed up the game a bit but we took home an important victory,” he said (via MilanNews).
On the differences between home and away performances, Pioli added: “The numbers are there and it is strange. We are analysing this thing. As there are no fans, neither at home nor away, the matches are similar.
“What matters is to keep the points average because we want to bring Milan back to the Champions League. That is the goal because there are many strong opponents. Now there are 8 games to go but we’re only thinking about Genoa.”
There was an extraordinary moment with 30 minutes remaining as the referee Fabio Maresca gave Ibrahimovic a red card after the Swede appeared to say something to him, meaning Milan went down to 10 men with a large portion of the game still to play.
“I talked to Zlatan and he told me that he absolutely did not offend him. He argued with the referee but did not disrespect him. Then I didn’t speak to Maresca and I don’t know his version. Ibra’s last sentence was ‘then you don’t care what I say’. It is clear that after his expulsion the game has changed but my team has shown to fill this gap with a lot of determination and will.”
On Tomori and his possible permanent say: “My will and the technical area is clear on the satisfaction that this player has given us. Without detracting from our excellent defenders, he has very important characteristics of speed and contrast. Our will is to keep him.”
On the Champions League target: “I said that the odds of 75 could be the right amount but we are playing with teams capable of winning all the games. We are lost in thinking about the future or other situations. If you only think about the last game or the one after, you are not preparing the match to be played well. Getting to 80 points would mean continuing a great growth. It would mean improving the previous championship and respecting our goal.”
On the renewal of Donnarumma: “Gigio is much younger than my children, I’m already a grandfather. I would advise him to stay at Milan because we are building a great team. I call my players fighters who are not yet successful but are ready to win. Milan is a top club. You ask me questions and don’t listen to the answers. We continue our journey thinking about our next match.”