Stefano Pioli admits Milan were ‘a little sluggish’ to begin with, but deserve credit for fighting back from 2-0 down to hold Parma. 'This is a team with heart and desire.'
The Rossoneri genuinely feared they would suffer their first Serie A defeat since March, especially as they hit the woodwork four times – three of them with Hakan Calhanoglu.
However, Theo Hernandez completed his brace in stoppages for a 2-2 draw with Parma.
“It remains an off night, as we are having some difficulties, especially Gabbia and Bennacer injuries,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“As for the game, for the first time I’d say we didn’t have the right approach and were a little sluggish. Parma did very well on the counter, we could’ve equalised earlier and didn’t, but this is a team with heart and desire. It’s fine.
“Clearly, we wanted to win and we had the chances to do so. Parma had two shots on goal, but we also made mistakes on those two goals.
“We weren’t as sharp in the second half, but that can happen when you are putting so much spirit into the chase, throwing men into the box and trying to get it back on track.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is starting to feel missed, but should be back from injury against Genoa on Wednesday.
“It’s true we have different characteristics without Ibra, as Zlatan gives us more of a presence in the penalty area, but we attacked in numbers instead and with players who are more focused on movement.”
Milan’s defending left something to be desired, as Simon Kjaer is also sorely missed.
“Parma deserve credit for making the most of their forwards, who have a lot of pace and are good at one-on-one situations. However, on the first goal, there’s clearly more of us in the box than Parma players, yet we got hunched up and didn’t cover the spaces,” continued Pioli.
“We had a lot of chances and should’ve scored earlier, it might’ve been a different game if we had, but it remains a genuine positive step forward in terms of mentality and character to get this back on track.
“The sensation I get is that the team is not happy with the draw, and that means we expect more of ourselves and are raising the bar. We had the quality, intelligence and intensity to bring home an important point.”
They are still top of the table, but their five-point lead from Inter has been cut to just three, is it true that Milan are really only aiming for a top four finish?
“Milan haven’t been in the Champions League for a long time, it’s only right that the team is ambitious and proved it can fight it out with everyone, so we just have to continue like this.”
Would Pioli sign on the dotted line if offered fourth place now?
“The only thing I would sign is a new contract!”