Stefano Pioli said he was unhappy with his attempts to prepare Milan for Thursday’s Coppa Italia clash with Genoa.
The Rossoneri were taken to extra time at San Siro before they eventually progressed to the quarter-finals with a 3-1 victory.
Genoa, with just one Serie A win all season and no Coppa victories over Milan since 1936-37, enjoyed an encouraging first half and took the lead through Leo Ostigard’s header 17 minutes in.
It looked as though coach Andriy Shevchenko would pull off a shock against his old side until Olivier Giroud headed in an equaliser with 16 minutes of normal time left.
Milan had by this point taken charge of the contest and deservedly went ahead through Rafael Leao, whose cross looped in off the far post, before Alexis Saelemaekers added a fine third.
While Pioli was pleased with his players’ response to falling behind, the Milan coach blamed their ineffective first-half display on his own attempted preparation.
“I’m not satisfied with my work,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“If the whole team doesn’t get the approach to the match right, it means the coach was not good at stimulating them from a mental point of view.
“In the first half, we struggled and we played without rhythm. We deserved to go behind. Then, it’s true that we reacted well; it’s the sign of important growth in terms of character and the mental side of this team.
“I’m disappointed because I thought I prepared the team well. I didn’t succeed there.”
— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 13, 2022
Milan’s poor first half was compounded when defender Fikayo Tomori limped off, and Pioli will now anxiously await further medical checks.
“He felt something strange in his knee,” he said. “We’re waiting a few days for some more diagnoses, but we hope to have all those on Monday. We have quite a limited group in terms of numbers.”
Leao, who has been directly involved in four goals in his first three games of 2021, was delighted to inspire another turnaround – even if his goal was unintentional.
The Portugal international admitted: “I wanted to cross because we have someone so good at heading [Giroud] with Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic], and when I can’t shoot, I try to cross.
“I try to give my best; today, I did so. We won and I scored.”
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