Stefano Pioli feels Yacine Adli played his ‘best games’ for Milan versus Empoli and Roma and is delighted with Matteo Gabbia’s performance against Romelu Lukaku even if the Giallorossi star can ‘sometimes’ be ‘easy’ to beat.

The Rossoneri coach spoke at a post-match press conference at San Siro following a 3-1 win over Roma. Football Italia was among the accredited media in Milan on Sunday night.

Adli scored his first goal in 21 Milan appearances, giving the Rossoneri an early lead in the first half.

“He accepted the change of roles and decided to stay with us. I think tonight’s game and the one against Empoli were his best ones here,” Pioli said.

“He is putting in positive performances and he must continue. I am happy with his availability and the commitment.”

Gabbia started his first Serie A game after returning from a loan spell at Villarreal. The Italian centre-back joined Simon Kjaer in central defence, allowing Theo Hernandez to return to a left-back position.

Pioli was asked if Gabbia had returned to the Stadio Meazza with a different mentality.

“I don’t think so, I’ve always seen the mental qualities that a defender must have. He is motivated and happy and perhaps, an experience away may have helped him,” the coach replied.

“He is serene because it’s an ideal moment as he plays regularly and has enthusiasm. He did well against a tough opponent [Lukaku] even if, sometimes, he can become easy because he plays with the back to the goal.”

Milan were in control of the game when Davide Calabria caused a penalty kick halfway in the second half, so Pioli was asked if he feared the Rossoneri would waste their two-goal lead.

“I think we handled the game well in the second half, even if we lacked the quality and determination to score the third goal earlier,” he replied.

“I think we managed the game well and didn’t see the phantoms of the past.”

Milan currently sit third in the Serie A table and have a nine-point lead over 5th-placed Lazio. Their next league game is away at Udinese on Saturday, January 20.

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