Stefano Pioli declared he was “in love” with his Milan players after the Rossoneri came from behind to beat Hellas Verona 3-1, keeping the destiny of the Scudetto in their hands.
Marco Faraoni headed Verona into the lead after 38 minutes at the Bentegodi before Sandro Tonali, playing on his 22nd birthday, restored parity before the interval on Sunday.
Tonali was again on target four minutes into the second half before substitute Alessandro Florenzi sealed Milan’s fourth comeback win – and second against Verona – of the Serie A season.
Victory moved Milan back to the Serie A summit as the Rossoneri, who are searching for their first Scudetto since 2010-11, sit two points clear of Inter with two league games left.
Coach Pioli was visibly delighted when speaking to DAZN after the game, heaping praise on his Milan group who never seem to know when they are beaten.
“I am very much in love with my players,” the Italian said. “I know what they are putting in and what a journey we have been on.
“Courage and belief come from your experiences. Today we went behind despite having started well, but we believe in ourselves and step by step we are overcoming all obstacles. We have to continue like this.
“I am satisfied with today’s victory, but we are already thinking about the next match [at home to Atalanta next Sunday] which will be complicated.”
80 – AC Milan have earned 80 points in a single Serie A season for their first time since 2011/2012 campaign (also 80, but after 38 games). Climbing.#VeronaMilan pic.twitter.com/lvciyL34du
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) May 8, 2022
Rafael Leao, who created a game-high four chances, provided two identical assists, speeding down the left flank before squaring for Tonali to tap in either side of half-time.
Pioli was quick to praise the Milan duo for their efforts against Verona.
“They are young, but strong,” he said of Leao and Tonali. “I told them on the second day of the summer training camp. I found two different guys than at the end of last season.”
Elaborating on Tonali, who is the youngest midfielder to have scored five or more goals in Serie A this season, Pioli drew comparisons to Rossoneri great Gennaro Gattuso and Roma legend Daniele De Rossi.
“Seeing the training sessions and the matches, you discover new characteristics also of the players,” Pioli said. “If we build with two midfielders, we make more use of the full-backs, like Sandro did tonight.
“Tonali has an incredible engine and work rate, he can become a great mezzala [a wide central midfielder]. He’s showing incredible growth.
“It’s difficult to compare two players. When I met him for the first time, I asked him what his favourite position on the pitch was, and he replied that everyone compares him to Pirlo.
“But he said he feels more like Gattuso. If I really have to name a name, I would say De Rossi.”
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