Stefano Pioli blames Verona for getting Theo Hernandez suspended in a ‘misunderstanding’ over his goal celebration, as Milan consolidated second place with a 3-1 victory.

News filtered through just before kick-off that AtalantaFiorentina had been called off after director Barone was rushed to hospital, having been taken ill in the team hotel.

“I want to start by sending all the best to Joe Barone, hoping that he can get through this as quickly as possible,” Pioli told DAZN.

“We interpreted the match in the right way, but could’ve been more alert on the rebound for their goal. We remained united as a team, created lots of scoring opportunities and ran hard. Considering we were coming off another game in Europe on Thursday, I think it was very positive.”

Theo Hernandez opened the scoring with a sensational solo effort where he rode two tackles before finding the net from a tricky angle.

However, he was booked for a ‘provocative’ celebration and will therefore be suspended for the next trip to Fiorentina.

It was noted that the situation escalated after Verona coach Marco Barone misinterpreted that as an insult, which alerted the referee.

“It’s not right, because Theo always celebrates with that ‘talk talk’ gesture, it was not a protest, nor a lack of respect towards the opposition fans. The Verona coach sparked a misunderstanding, a discussion, but Theo did nothing wrong and now we have a player suspended, so that damages Milan.

“I think coaches ought to talk to their players and leave other team’s players alone.”

Christian Pulisic was on target for the fourth game running, while Samuel Chukwueze on the volley completed the 3-1 rout at the Stadio Bentegodi.

Surprisingly, Noah Okafor started as a centre-forward, benching both Olivier Giroud and Luka Jovic.

“We studied our opponents carefully and know they have a lot of pace in the side, so we wanted players with similar characteristics.

“Chukwueze is in his first Serie A season, where the demands upon him are certainly different to those he had at Villarreal. He is working hard and trying, but sometimes people rush to judge players. I am glad for the goal and that he is coming on with the right attitude when called upon.

“We have the necessary patience to wait for all our players to develop.”

Milan continue to push hard down the left flank with Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao.

“They have superior technical and physical capabilities, but are also mentally very consistent. Opponents need to worry about us down that flank and clearly the preventative marking allows us to open up spaces elsewhere on the pitch. They are fantastic players and we are enjoying them.

“Leao is learning every day and he will also learn from the missed opportunity when he should’ve passed to Okafor.”

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