Vincenzo Montella praised AC Milan’s determination after a late surge of attacks earned them a 2-1 victory over Palermo in Serie A.
Ilija Nestorovski’s goal in the 71st minute cancelled out Suso’s first half opener at Renzo Barbera, but substitute Gianluca Lapadula scored his first goal for the club in the 82nd minute to take Milan up to second place in the table.
The result leaves Milan with five wins from their last six league games, and Montella singled out Lapadula for praise after the game.
He told Premier Sports: “I am particularly happy with his [Lapadula’s] goal. When a coach has the chance to make decisions, it is a great thing.
“Lapadula started a little behind compared to the others, but he has now started some matches.
“With work, he can climb the pecking order. I repeat, I am happy with his goal, because he has a fighting spirit and I know how hard he is working for the few minutes he has played up until now.
“We started well in the first 20 minutes with good football and the patience to find the right moment to strike. After the goal we settled down, lowering the pace. I could tell that Palermo were more motivated than us, and they found a deserved equaliser.
“I liked the reaction of the team, who created four chances in 10 minutes before the goal that gave us a deserved victory. Now, we work with more serenity.”
M’Baye Niang, still recovering from a bout of the flu, missed the game, but Montella was pleased with the performance of his replacement Giacomo Bonaventura and that of Mario Pasalic, who was given a rare start in midfield.
“Niang has different characteristics from Bonaventura,” said Montella. “I want to commend the players who were present.
“What emerged was a beautiful spirit when we conceded the equaliser, and I am very happy with this victory.
“Pasalic lost a bit of rhythm but he is a player who has power, can do more and play in midfield roles. He needs to have the hunger of Lapadula to stay at these levels.”
After seeing fringe players like Pasalic help his team to victory, Montella was cautious when asked about strengthening his squad in the January transfer window, saying: “You need to be careful, because you can also make things worse.”