Pioli Hails Milan Performance Against “Strong” Inter Side

Milan boss Stefano Pioli was satisfied with the way his players performed against arch-rivals Inter as the spoils were shared at the San Siro. The 175th Serie A edition of the Derby della Madonnina produced a 1-1 draw, though the match could have gone both sides.

Inter took an early lead through ex-Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu. The Turk first drew a spot-kick, courtesy of Franck Kessie’s epic blunder inside the 18-yard box, and then went on to convert the penalty himself in front of the Rossoneri supporters. Staring in the face of adversity, Pioli’s men bounced back almost immediately as Stefan De Vrij turned Sandro Tonali’s cross into his own net only six minutes later.

Another reckless challenge inside Milan’s penalty area resulted in a second penalty for Inter just before the hour mark. Fode Ballo-Toure completely lost sight of the ball and chopped Matteo Darmian down, sending Lautaro Martinez to the spot. However, Ciprian Tatarusanu got his hands on the Argentine’s effort to keep the ‘home’ side’s comeback hopes alive.

It wasn’t Milan’s brightest display by any stretch of the imagination, but the Rossoneri had several golden opportunities to turn things around in the business end of the game. After withholding Inter’s unrelenting pressure for 80 minutes, Pioli’s team found themselves on the front foot in the final ten minutes of the encounter.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic nearly mirrored his free-kick heroics from the Stadio Olimpico last time out, but Samir Handanovic managed to thwart the Swede’s devastating long-range attempt in the 82nd minute. Milan continued to push for the winner, and second-half substitute Alexis Saelemaekers almost decided the match in the 90th minute.

The Belgian’s well-placed low effort from a distance rattled off the right post, with Kessie failing to capitalize on the rebound. Even though Milan’s seven-match winning run in Serie A was brought to a halt, the Rossoneri remain one of just two sides in Europe’s top-five leagues yet to lose a domestic fixture this term, alongside Napoli.

That gives Pioli every reason for optimism heading into the international break. During the post-match interview, the Rossoneri head coach shared his opinion of the derby showpiece.

Glass half full. You obviously prepare the games to win. The game was complicated and difficult, the players were generous. The performance was positive against a very strong team, we proved to be strong too,” Pioli told DAZN, as quoted by TUTTOmercatoWEB

Look at the difference in average age between us and Inter in the starting eleven. Now we play the games with more conviction. Inter are certainly among the strongest in the league, there are some difficulties, in some situations, we were better and in others, they were better.

We were very brave even in defense, we looked for two vs. two situations in the central area against strong opponents. In the first half, a half had to stay a little further back, there was too much space in front of the defense. In the European leagues, it’s just us and Napoli who are unbeaten, the team is making a great effort.