Milan head coach Stefano Pioli insisted “four teams can still win the Scudetto” after his side moved back to the top of Serie A with a 1-0 victory over Cagliari, which was marred by abuse directed at Mike Maignan.
The Rossoneri dominated for large parts on Saturday, but a lack of clinical finishing left them frustrated until just before the hour.
Ismael Bennacer stepped up with an exquisite volley into the bottom-left corner to edge Milan past Walter Mazzarri’s side, who spurned two great opportunities through Joao Pedro and Keita Balde in response.
Victory meant Milan restored their three-point lead over Napoli, who defeated Udinese 2-1 earlier on Saturday, and they are six ahead of defending champions Inter, who have played a game fewer, after they were held by Fiorentina.
Juventus could cut the gap on the leaders to seven when they host Salernitana on Sunday, and Pioli believes the Scudetto race is far from over with eight games remaining for his side.
“Every game is an important crossroads now. I liked the team, even when we didn’t score in the first half, as we played with quality and intensity,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“Cagliari caused us problems, but that’s inevitable when you have two teams with such strong motivation.”
Milan’s triumph was their third straight win by a 1-0 scoreline and, while delighted with the result, Pioli would look to see his team be more ruthless in front of goal.
“We would like to score more and went close again several times today, but the important thing is to win,” he added.
“We’re doing great things, but we also know there are four sides that could still win the Scudetto. There’s no point looking too far ahead, there’s a long way to go and we need to concentrate only on our own path.”
#CagliariMilan: mission accomplished
— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 19, 2022
Milan’s win was tainted, however. There was a commotion between the players after the final whistle, and Pioli confirmed that goalkeeper Mike Maignan had made claims he was racially abused by some Cagliari fans.
“Mike told me there was racist abuse from behind the goal,” Pioli responded when asked about the scenes at full-time.
“It’s always sad when these things happen, nobody deserves that.”
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