Stefano Pioli acknowledges Milan ‘made life difficult for ourselves’ with costly errors that Lille took full advantage of. ‘We played into their hands.’
The Rossoneri had been unbeaten in 24 competitive matches, since a 2-1 Serie A defeat to Genoa in March, but were second best throughout tonight’s game at San Siro.
A Yusuf Yazici hat-trick at San Siro proved decisive, as squad rotation didn’t pay off this time.
“We were up against a strong team and we made life difficult for ourselves. We hadn’t started badly, but I thought we’d be more dangerous in attack and we weren’t able to create enough chances,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“With such a strong counter-attacking side, once we went behind, inevitably it opened up spaces and that played into their hands.
“We evaluate the positives and negatives, as always. For the first time in a long while, we have more negatives than positives to look at. We weren’t ourselves and made mistakes in the wrong game, because Lille are a team who will take advantage of those errors.
“I am the coach of this team, I experienced the build-up to this match and I can assure you we did not underestimate anyone. We didn’t lose sight of the right attitude either. It’s just an off day and we will learn from it.
“This is a young squad, but also a mature one that will know how to react to difficulties.”
Pioli was asked if he regretted some of his choices and the degree of squad rotation for this game.
“I thought this was the best starting XI for the circumstances, it was balanced and competitive. Aside from the penalty, I felt we actually did well in the first half, but our movements and finishing in the final third weren’t at the usual level.
“Obviously, as time went on and we conceded two goals in quick succession with our opponents making the most of those spaces opening up, we were punished constantly.
“I think the scoreline is a little heavy, but we knew the group would be balanced and we are ready for the next three games.”
This was nonetheless Pioli’s first defeat since March, ending a run of 24 competitive games unbeaten, and Milan remain top of the Serie A table.
“I am very happy here, there is a united atmosphere, a club that supports us and we have everything in place to do our work as well as possible. When a coach finds those circumstances, he is focused and can give his best.”