Stefano Pioli admits Milan ‘stopped playing and made the mistake of thinking it was over’ against nine-man Bologna, but the 4-2 victory is ‘very important’ for their season.
The Rossoneri certainly made hard work of it at the Stadio Dall’Ara, as they were 2-0 up, but were pegged back to 2-2 by 10-man Bologna with a Zlatan Ibrahimovic own goal and Musa Barrow strike in the space of three minutes.
The hosts went down to nine men and it still took until a stunning Ismael Bennacer volley at the 84th minute to finally break them, Ibrahimovic adding a fourth in stoppages.
This was Pioli’s 100th competitive match on the Milan bench and he had mixed feelings at the end of it.
“We struggled, because we made the mistake of thinking the game was over when we were 2-0 up with an extra man,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“If you stop playing, then you run a risk in any scenario. Fortunately, we showed the strength to restart and get the win.
“When against nine men, that changed our mentality and we got too frenetic. Having Giroud and Ibrahimovic together also confused us, we were putting too many crosses in without specific aims.”
The coach was asked if he was intending originally to substitute Ibrahimovic with Giroud before the Soriano red card.
“I was going to make that substitution anyway, as we had an extra man, so I thought the two strikers would give us more options in the box.
“We should’ve controlled the game when we had the lead, but we took the wrong attitude. The first half performance was very good, we created many dangerous opportunities, but had the wrong attitude after the break and that’s an important lesson for our growth.”
Milan again showed their ability to score late goals and Pioli assures it is not about physical fitness.
“It’s the mentality that makes the difference, which makes us go for the victory and continue believing in ourselves right to the end.”
The Rossoneri certainly did not give their best this evening, but Pioli considers it a precious result, even against nine men.
“This is a very important victory, very important. We know after the Champions League fixtures it’s tough against teams who had all week to prepare, but we will learn from this experience.
“Now we’ve got to get back physical and psychological energy to avoid making these mistakes again.”
🔴⚫️ Of course, Zlatan Ibrahimović wanted in on the act…
The Swede picks his spot and finds it perfectly to earn AC Milan maximum points. pic.twitter.com/zrpU6YroG0
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 23, 2021