Emotions began to boil over during Milan’s 4-0 win over league leaders Napoli on Sunday evening as Paolo Maldini and Luciano Spalletti came together in a heated exchange in the tunnel on their way back into the dressing room at half-time.
The Rossoneri had found themselves two goals to the good at the interval, courtesy of first half strikes from Rafael Leao and Brahim Diaz.
The atmosphere at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona had increased in hostility after Leao’s opener, as the Portuguese international appeared to pull some sort of face towards the Partenopei supporters during his celebrations, for which Pioli had already told him off.
Confrontations continued into the tunnel after the referee Antonio Rapuano blew for half-time, as Spalletti began to question the official over the decision to book Stanislav Lobotka after 40 minutes of play.
According to Spalletti, Milan technical director Maldini witnessed the conversation between the referee and the Napoli coach, and took it upon himself to intervene.
Spalletti claimed that Maldini walked past “waving his arms” and accused the Partenopei boss of complaining too much.
Speaking to DAZN after the game, Spalletti explained: “Nothing happened, I was just getting back and asking about the Lobotka yellow card. The referee was explaining that, Maldini went past waving his arms as if to say I complain all the time or whatever.
“However, like last season, we were all still on the bench and did not protest, unlike Pioli who was told off by the referee. Nobody told me off.
“What I did not like was that he was talking over me and my questions, so I told him as much. He reacted then, but as far as I am concerned, there’s nothing in it.
“After all, it is Paolo Maldini! I did not play at his level, but I was in football for a few years myself too.”