Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Milan learning to play with pressure in Europa League – Pioli

SoccerNews in Serie A 17 Sep 2020

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Stefano Pioli was pleased to see Milan come through a potentially tricky test at Shamrock Rovers in Europa League qualifying.

The Rossoneri were clear favourites in Ireland and progressed 2-0 following goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hakan Calhanoglu.

But head coach Pioli felt Rovers represented tough opponents, particularly with Milan’s season just starting.

“I’m satisfied because it was not easy,” Pioli told Milan TV. “The first official match always involves many difficulties.

“I knew we had prepared well, but they are a good team and they were better prepared than us. It was a positive game to improve our condition. There were more good things than bad things tonight.

“We knew it could be the match of their lives for them, but it could also be for us. If we don’t reach the Europa League, what we did last season would be partially nullified.

“We played well and won the game; it was just the first. I liked the team on the pitch. I am satisfied. We have to grow, improve, yes, but it was a tough game and we faced it well.”

He added: “Victory was our goal and we did it, in my opinion, by playing good football.

“We weren’t lucky in the draw, Shamrock were first in the standings, the next opponents [Bodo/Glimt] will be even stronger. They are 14 or 15 points ahead in the Norwegian league.”

Bodo/Glimt currently sit 13 points clear of their nearest Eliteserien rivals, Molde, and are unbeaten in their 17 league matches this season.

Milan, by contrast, are undefeated in 14 games, their longest run since 2008.

“We will have to find another performance of another level. The pressure was all on us, we will have to be good at managing it and knowing how to live with it,” Pioli said.

Calhanoglu spoke of his joy at starring again in tandem with Ibrahimovic, for whom he provided a first-half assist before netting himself.

“I hope to continue like this,” the midfielder said. “We have a great feeling together. Thanks also to the team that we are so strong. We must continue like this.”

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