Milan players have a 'fire burning inside' – Pioli hails table-topping Rossoneri

By Guy Atkinson 24 December 2020 11
Milan players have a 'fire burning inside' – Pioli hails table-topping Rossoneri

Stefano Pioli says his Milan players have a "fire burning inside" after they ensured they would end 2020 at the Serie A summit with a last-gasp 3-2 win over Lazio.

Ante Rebic's header and a penalty from Hakan Calhanoglu put the Rossoneri 2-0 up inside 17 minutes at San Siro, but the visitors roared back with goals from Luis Alberto and Ciro Immobile, who had a penalty saved prior to the Spaniard's goal.

Theo Hernandez powered home a header in stoppage time, though, restoring Milan's one-point lead at the top after neighbours Inter had temporarily leapfrogged them following a 2-1 win over Hellas Verona earlier on Wednesday.

The win was the Rossoneri's 10th in 14 league games this season and Pioli does not want his side to relent when they return to action after the mid-season break.

"We'll keep the same passion and determination," he told DAZN. "There are many young players who have room for improvement.

"We have reached our targets this year, we are the league leaders. We have a fire burning inside and we need to leave it on.

"They are all aware of their qualities and I expect to see the same things in 2021. We are not perfect. There are many things we need to solve. We can't always dominate games, it's normal. When we don't do it, we must be compact and suffer.

"We always try to win games, we did it and I am really happy. I am proud of my team, they are doing something incredible.

"Lazio have great qualities and physical skills, but we had the chances to win the game and we did it.

"They were very aggressive, our midfielders played an intense game, it was what we needed in such a difficult game."

The result means Lazio have won just once in their past 31 away games versus Milan, with boss Simone Inzaghi left frustrated by his side's inability to hold on for at least a point.

"The result is not fair, I am angry," he said. "We came here with some problems, we had a few players out of action. We deserved more. It must serve as a lesson for the future.

"We are sorry for the result. We controlled the game.

"After the equaliser, we should have paid more attention. There must be a reason why Milan haven't lost a game for a long time. The guys must take the positive aspects of this game, not the result, but we dominated.

"We should have done more to avoid Theo's goal. Luis Alberto left him too much space. I am sorry for the guys, they didn't deserve to lose."

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