Stefano Pioli saw the comeback from 2-0 down to beat Verona 3-2 despite an injury crisis as ‘a show of maturity’ from Milan. ‘This is proof the club built a strong squad.’
The Rossoneri looked down and out when trailing 2-0 after 24 minutes and then lost Ante Rebic to yet another injury, but in the second half completed the fightback to win 3-2 with Olivier Giroud, a Franck Kessie penalty and bizarre Koray Gunter own goal.
“It was a struggle, that’s true, it was complicated from the get-go, but the lads showed great character,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“Verona were stronger in the first half, better in the duels, intensity, in getting on the second ball, so they created more dangerous situations. Clearly we needed to step up a gear and improve, but I saw belief in the team at the break. It was a real show of maturity.
“What we need is maturity and consistency. If you want to aim big, you have to focus on the small things first, take every detail one at a time.
“This is the proof that the club has built a strong squad, because even with so many absentees, I still have a competitive side and many choices to make with different characteristics.”
With 22 points from eight rounds, it is the best Milan start to a Serie A season since three points for a win were introduced in 1994-95.
“Davide Calabria started as a midfielder and you can tell, because he is very intelligent, he can move around and knows how to shake off a marker or burst forward. Sometimes he can be wider, Theo Hernandez can make similar movements.
“I just think we weren’t dynamic in the first half, did much better after the break.”
Considering the comeback and the number of problems they had, was this win a real sign that Milan can win the Scudetto?
“This is a very important victory, it’s worth three points. Our fans again gave us so much energy during difficult moments tonight. It’s a journey, we are trying to find consistency, but there are so many big teams with great quality.
“As I said, we want to be competitive to the end, we’ll keep taking it one game at a time, focus on the small things for the big picture.”
Samu Castillejo was in tears after the final whistle, but they were tears of joy, as he was pushed towards the exit and insulted by fans over the summer, only to change the game tonight.
He earned a penalty and then his cross was deflected for an own goal by Koray Gunter.
“Samu must be seen as an example. My choices did not favour him recently, but he never stopped working, never stopped making sure he would be ready when called upon and that is the secret of this team. I am very happy for him tonight.”
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 16, 2021