Stefano Pioli criticised the Atalanta penalty decision and insists Milan ‘deserved the victory’ in this 1-1 draw, telling Rafael Leao he must ‘always be this kind of player.’

It was a far stronger performance than the Rossoneri have shown recently and Rafael Leao scored his first Serie A goal since September with a stunning solo effort, but they only got a point out of it.

Atalanta equalised with a penalty, awarded using VAR for Olivier Giroud catching Emil Holm on the arm and chest, while Marco Carnesecchi made a series of great saves.

“It is not enough for a penalty in my view, for two reasons,” Pioli told DAZN.

“Firstly, Holm puts his hands on his face and there was no contact with his face. Secondly, it was not enough for the general approach that Orsato takes, as he is a European referee and he generally lets play run and gives few free kicks.

“Giroud does absolutely nothing and if Holm doesn’t bring his hands to his face and go down, nobody would notice. He was smart.”

The hosts had 20 shots compared to eight for La Dea, and 68 per cent possession, so seemed the most frustrated at the final whistle and not just because of the penalty.

“We dropped two points today, because if there is one team that deserved to win, it was us. In order to win, you need to score one more goal than the opponents, so that is a pity.

“I feel it was certainly the best performance my Milan had against Atalanta. We played with character, quality, did not allow them hardly any shots on goal, but we should’ve scored a few more ourselves.

“It is the best performance of the week, it was our fifth game in 15 days, so there are many positive things, but not the result. We deserved the victory.

“We wanted parity in midfield and Yacine Adli kept a close eye on Koopmeiners. Atalanta have a very unusual way of playing, almost unique, in that their forwards are quite wide. Yacine gave us a bit of coverage in the central area.

“Our defenders also did good work and won most of the individual duels.”

Milan have now scraped one point from their last three competitive games, having lost to Monza and Rennes.

“I feel that lately we have often showed this approach and performance. We got it wrong against Monza to begin with, whereas against Rennes we had a very large 3-0 first leg lead behind us.

“We are giving away too many penalties, 11 is too many, evidently we are being naïve in our defending at times. At the same time, there have also been some exaggerated evaluations from the referees.

“Now we must get back to work, as the next few matches in Serie A and the Europa League with Slavia Prague will tell us a lot about our season.”

Rafael Leao put in one of his best ever performances for Milan, quite apart from the solo goal, and it was his first Serie A strike since September 2023.

“It was probably his best of the season, above all for his consistency. He always had these moments, but tonight he showed the right intensity throughout and also helped out when defending.

“It all comes from his mentality, his belief, and he must try to always be this kind of player, because he is capable of it,” explained Pioli.

“This performance must give us all confidence and strength going forward, so we want to take the same approach against Lazio on Friday.”

Considering Milan are now 13 points adrift of leaders Inter, so are they looking ahead or behind their shoulders?

“Right now, we must try to stabilise third place and potentially try to catch Juventus in second.”

2 thought on “Pioli: ‘Atalanta penalty so soft, Leao must always be like this’”
  1. Dropped 2 points but tonight, but milan gave everything and for that the coach and players have to be commended. If Milan played like that for even 80% of the season so far, they’d still be in the champ league and closer to inter. They totally deserved to win.

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