Riccardo Saponara was on target again to hurt his former club, with a stunning curler into the top corner, but there were also some comical errors from Ciprian Tatarusanu, Giacomo Bonaventura and Theo Hernandez.
They achieved it despite missing three centre-backs, having to use Lorenzo Venuti in that role as an emergency.
“Losing Nastasic, Milenkovic and Quarta for this game wasn’t exactly helpful, but the others sacrificed themselves and worked hard,” Italiano told Sky Sport Italia.
“We were able to beat the Serie A leaders and I think it should’ve been finished at 3-0, we allowed them to open it back up, then did well to score the fourth.
“The 3-1 changed the game just a few minutes later and I think we were already heading for a calmer situation, but I remain convinced with this application and sacrifice from everyone, we deserved to beat a great Milan side.”
This was the second year running that Italiano was able to beat Pioli’s Milan, having shocked them last season at the helm of Spezia.
“I am pleased, because this season we already had good performances against the big clubs and didn’t manage to get points, so we were rewarded this time.
“I told the lads we are getting the reputation of a side that doesn’t have what it takes against the big clubs, so this was the time to prove the opposite. It was a great achievement and I am very happy for the players.”
Vlahovic has now scored 27 Serie A goals in 2021, equalling Kurt Hamrin’s Fiorentina record that was set in 1960.
However, he could well leave in January if the right offer arrives, having refused to sign a new contract with a deal that expires in June 2023.
“He is destined to a great career, not because he scores goals and knows how to play, but because of the way he trains. It’s extraordinary to watch him train, he takes all that with him into the match situation.
“We’ll see what happens in future, but right now he is working so hard and giving the team everything. I’ve said many times, Dusan is not thinking about anything other than preparing for these games. You see his approach and impact. He knows everything depends on performances and has the character of a veteran.”
Saponara has always been capable of extraordinary skill, but his consistency was an issue throughout his career.
“He’s a special guy, you need to motivate him, use the right words to get the best out of him, and at this moment perhaps we are making him feel involved and important. I am happy to have lit up the fire that was perhaps starting to go out within Ricky.”