“We Deserved It” – Pioli Praises Milan Season Following Atalanta Game

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has refused to hide his delight following a tense 2-0 victory against Atalanta in the season finale. The Rossoneri snapped a three-match winless streak against the Bergamo side in Serie A at the best moment possible. 

It was “do or die” for Milan, who went to the Gewiss Stadium to meet Gian Piero Gasperini’s team in desperate need of all three points. The seven-time European Cup winners were third in the standings ahead of the kick-off. However, they were level on points with fourth-placed Napoli and just one clear of fifth-placed Juventus.

With everyone expecting the Partenopei to ease past Hellas Verona at home, it looked like a two-horse race for the remaining Champions League slot. Well, it turned out to be quite different eventually. 

Juventus brushed Bologna aside with an overwhelming 4-1 victory at Renato Dall’Ara, having gone 3-0 up at half-time to put their fate into the hands of Milan and Napoli. And while the Rossoneri secured a narrow half-time lead, courtesy of Franck Kessié’s 43rd-minute penalty, Gennaro Gattuso’s side went into the interval goalless.

Basically, it was all between the Lombard heavyweights and the southern giants going into the second half. Although Napoli managed to break a stubborn Verona defense down on the hour mark through Amir Rrahmani, the visitors pulled one back in a matter of minutes.

Meanwhile, Milan were fighting tooth and nail to protect a slender lead in Bergamo, with Atalanta pushing and probing throughout the entire second half. Stefano Pioli’s men dropped deep and tried to stay as compact as possible to prevent the hosts from putting the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

In a hectic, high-octane final ten minutes, the visitors managed to find the way to keep the ball more frequently, thanks to tireless Kessié. The Ivorian used his strength and body balance to run down the clock down the final stretch and eventually converted another spot-kick to inflict the final blow on Atalanta.

Despite wasting a massive opportunity to qualify for the Champions League with a game to spare last time out, Pioli’s side managed to pick themselves up after a goalless draw with Cagliari to claim a vital victory in Bergamo.

In the end, Milan managed to end a painful seven-year wait for a top-four finish. After defying the odds throughout the whole of 2020-21, the Rossoneri claimed a well-deserved second-place finish. 

During the post-match interview, Pioli pointed out that his players got nothing less than they deserved for their commitment, determination, hard work, and team spirit this term.

We reached the Champions League because we deserved it, as well as we deserved second place in the standings,” the 55-year-old said, as relayed by TUTTOmercatoWEB.

We did the whole championship at the top. Unfortunately, we had thrown away the match point last Sunday. I’m really excited, happy. I have to thank the club because it made us work spectacularly.