Saturday February 22 2020
Pioli: 'No doubt, not a penalty'

Stefano Pioli said Milan must “take responsibility” for losing control of the game against 10-man Fiorentina, “but there are no doubts, it was not a penalty.”

It was a match dominated by VAR, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw his sensational opener cancelled out for a handling offence, then Ante Rebic scored and Dalbert was sent off – originally a yellow card – for stopping a clear scoring opportunity.

The 1-1 result was sealed in the final minutes by Erick Pulgar’s penalty, although Alessio Romagnoli seemed to graze the ball when tackling Patrick Cutrone.

“We have to take full responsibility, as we had the game in hand, did everything we needed to do, but then stopped playing once Fiorentina went down to 10 men and assumed the game was over,” the coach told DAZN.

“There are regrets, we certainly shoulder responsibility, because we were superficial and made errors.

“As for the penalty, there are no doubts, it was not a penalty. You could tell from the bench that the ball moved when Romagnoli went in. I do not understand why technology is not used in these situations. I do not understand it.

“We should’ve won the game and were in a position to do so. I had taken it for granted that VAR helped a referee change an incorrect decision, but apparently that is not the case.

“It’s difficult to accept, because we’ve had some strange incidents going against us over the last few matches. As I said, we shoulder a lot of the responsibility, because we made mistakes, but on the other situation, there’s nothing we can do to control that.”

Pioli acknowledged Milan did more than enough to put the game up for grabs when against 10 men.

“We lost the ball in banal fashion, felt too comfortable and allowed three or four counter-attacks, which just cannot happen in those circumstances.

“At precisely the moment when we should’ve controlled the ball, passed it around quickly and kept our positions, we got bent out of shape and allowed counter-attacks. These are evidently situations we need to work on and improve.”

It was inevitably an emotional return to the Stadio Franchi, having guided the team through the Davide Astori tragedy, and he was greeted by a banner: ‘A real man, a true leader, Stefano always one of us.’

“Florence has always been an emotional place for me, both as a player and a coach. Clearly, when I come back here, I am prepared to experience strong emotions.

“We all went through a truly unusual situation and so clearly I have that bond with the fans and players. I thank them for their affection this evening.”

Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis said that Pioli remains the favourite to still be on the bench next season.

“I am relaxed, I put all my passion into my work and I am not thinking about the future. My players should not think about the future either, as that is absolutely not a priority. We have much to do this season and must therefore stay fully focused.”