Milan wait on Ibrahimovic, Rebic and Calhanoglu as Pioli braces for injury verdicts on star trio

Oleh John Skilbeck 1 Mac 2021 27
Milan wait on Ibrahimovic, Rebic and Calhanoglu as Pioli braces for injury verdicts on star trio

Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Milan an injury fright in Sunday's dramatic 2-1 win at Roma but boss Stefano Pioli suspects the Swedish striker is weary rather than wounded.

After going close to scoring four times in the opening 10 minutes, Ibrahimovic's influence on the Serie A tussle began to diminish and he was substituted early in the second half.

He looked to have a thigh problem, while Ante Rebic, who scored Milan's winner, and Hakan Calhanoglu also had to be withdrawn because of physical complaints.

After the hectic game that saw Milan end Roma's 16-game unbeaten home league run, Pioli indicated none of the three appeared to be seriously hurt.

"All three have had muscle problems," Milan head coach Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"At the moment it seems to be more fatigue than serious problems, but tomorrow [Monday] we will evaluate more carefully.

"I have many players, but I hope to be able to recover them all, because we have the most important moment of the season ahead with so many important commitments."

Second-placed Milan return to action on Wednesday when they tackle Udinese at San Siro, and Sunday's win at the Stadio Olimpico means Inter's lead at the top has been trimmed to four points again.

Franck Kessie's penalty shortly before half-time gave Milan the lead, but Jordan Veretout's 10th league goal of the season hauled Roma level soon after the break.

Rebic cracked in a classy winner shortly before the hour mark, with Milan good value given the quality of chances they created.

In terms of xG (expected goals), Milan led 3.1 to 1.4 in the final reckoning, although Roma were 18-17 ahead in terms of shots attempted over the 90 minutes.

Roma v Milan match facts

Pioli's team have ceded top spot to Inter in recent weeks, but the Milan boss says sitting second is still a mighty achievement.

"If we had been told at the beginning of the season that we would be second at this point in the championship, no one would have believed us," Pioli said.

"I still think there are seven strong teams, who will fight for the top four and at the end of the championship only four will celebrate. With our results we have raised expectations."

He said Milan produced an "exceptional" first-half display, yet the medical checks on Monday could still sour the result.

Roma's players were frustrated to concede the first-half penalty that Kessie converted, and they were then riled not to be awarded a spot-kick of their own late in the game when Henrikh Mkhitaryan felt he was impeded.

Roma coach Paulo Fonseca told Sky Sport Italia: "I don't want to talk about refereeing. It's easy to find excuses. I didn't like some things but I don't want to talk about them."

He said it was "defensive reasons" that caused Roma to struggle against elite teams and spoke of "organisational errors" rather than individual mistakes.

What also irked Fonseca was how Roma began so timidly, allowing Milan to dominate the opening stages and gain an immediate foothold in the game.

If Ibrahimovic's finishing had been slightly sharper, he could have had a hat-trick inside the opening 10 minutes.

"We began the game very badly," Fonseca said. "We were absent for the first 20 minutes, we were passive and against Milan it was difficult to recover."

Tentang Penulis

John Skilbeck

Komen