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Stefano Pioli said he was unhappy with his attempts to prepare Milan for Thursday’s Coppa Italia clash with Genoa.
Rossoneri were taken to extra time at the San Siro before eventually advancing to the quarterfinals with a 3-1 victory.
Genoa, with just one Serie A win all season and no Coppa wins over Milan since 1936-37, enjoyed an encouraging first half and took the lead through Leo Ostigard’s header 17 minutes later.
Counter-attacking seemed to be the preferred strategy of Olri Giroud.
Milan had by this time taken charge of the competition and went deservedly ahead through Rafael Leao, whose cross ran in from the far post before Alexis Saelemaekers added a fine third place.
While Pioli was pleased with his players’ reaction to getting behind, the Milan coach blamed their ineffective first-half display on his own attempt to prepare.
“I’m not happy with my job,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“If the whole team does not get the right approach to the match, it means that the coach was not good at stimulating them from a mental point of view.
“In the first half we had a hard time and we played without rhythm. We deserved to go backwards. Then it is true that we reacted well; it is a sign of important growth in terms of character and the mental side of this team.
“I am disappointed because I thought I prepared the team well. I did not succeed.”
– AC Milan (@acmilan) January 13, 2022
Milan’s poor first half worsened as defender Fikayo Tomori limped off and Pioli will now eagerly await further medical checks.
“He felt something strange in his knee,” he said. “We are waiting a few days for some more diagnoses, but we hope to have them all on Monday. We have a fairly limited group in terms of numbers.”
Leao, who has been directly involved in four goals in his first three games in 2021, was delighted to be able to inspire yet another turnaround – even though his goal was unintentional.
The Portuguese national team player admitted: “I would cross because we have someone who is so good at heading [Giroud] with Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic], and when I can not shoot, I try to cross.
“I try to give my best; today I did it. We won and I scored. “