AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has praised his players for their hard work to conclude a ‘demanding period’ with a 3-2 victory against Atalanta.
The scoreline is not reflective of what was a very comfortable and confident display from the Rossoneri against their Lombardy rivals, as they raced out to a 2-0 half time lead and had wrapped up the three points thanks to Rafael Leao’s goal with just over 10 minutes to go.
In the end a late Duvan Zapata penalty that was awarded by VAR and then a Mario Pasalic strike from close range – after what appeared to be a foul on Junior Messias – made the final margin just one goal, but it flattered the home side.
Pioli spoke to DAZN and reflected on what is a vital three points to keep pace with the teams at the top so early in the season, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
“We produced a great performance: it is a big victory that concludes a very demanding period, in which the team has always responded to defeats as well. We are growing and we absolutely must continue like this,” he said.
On the performance of individuals: “I asked for an important effort. Brahim and Leao? It is easier for the attackers to run forward, trying to be dangerous. They are guys with great technical qualities: we did well in the game and I am satisfied with the performance.
“For two years this team has been playing in a certain way and obtaining important results. But we must remain humble. We knew our opponent: we tried to empty the midfield a little and sometimes found favourable situations.
“Where we weren’t dynamic in Liverpool, we were today: whoever is in the mark must move to receive, whether he is a full-back, the midfielder or the attacking midfielder.”
On Kessie: “I have no doubts about his qualities and attitudes. He’s in our work, but for the physique he needs more time. Today he played an amazing game. Today’s performance reminded me of those of the team. last year. I have many matches and many solutions.”
On Serie A: “Serie A is improving thanks to many coaches who play more proactive football. The Champions League is helping us, it made us understand that we need to link intensity and quality; I too have grown, with the club that supported me. We have the same motivations and ambitions: Napoli are ahead of us, Juve will return, Inter…”
Midfielder Sandro Tonali has declared that the Scudetto is the target for the team this season after their fantastic start continued, and Pioli was in no mood to dampen his belief.
On the words of Tonali: “They have to ride enthusiasm. It is right that my players think they are better than others, then they can show it game after game.”
On Leao and Rebic: “I want to congratulate Leao and Rebic, with them we have much more depth.”