AC Milan director Paolo Maldini conceded that his side were far from their best but praised their resilience and never-say-die attitude after the 2-1 win against Fiorentina.
When Rafael Leao latched on to Olivier Giroud’s lay-off and sprinted through on goal to put Milan 1-0 up inside two minutes it looked like being a far more comfortable evening than it ended up being, with the teams going in level at the break after Antonin Barak’s shot deflected in.
In the third of four minutes added on at the end of the 90, Milan got themselves back into the lead and it came via a stroke of good fortune as Aster Vranckx’s cross from the right side sailed over everyone and was kneed into his own net by Nikola Milenkovic.
After the game Maldini spoke to DAZN because Stefano Pioli was absent from post-match interviews due to personal reasons, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
On the victory: “Not winning would have changed the break. We achieved this victory with sacrifice without a harmonious game, but we wanted to win and we did it.”
On the World Cup: “We don’t have many players who will go to the World Cup. Giroud ran for 95 minutes, he didn’t think about the World Cup. Maybe those who came back from an injury could have thought about it, but that’s not our case. Maybe just Dest, but he gritted his teeth to be there and made himself available.”
On Milan’s performance: “We have two points less than last year, the difference is what Napoli did and they are doing incredible things. We are more or less in line with what we did last year. In Cremona we were bad and we misinterpreted the game, but otherwise nothing can be said. We are in the round of 16 of the Champions League, we need to recover some players. We have a different awareness that must be accompanied by the enthusiasm that led us to win the league last year.”
On the desire to win: “We could have scored more but they could too. The risk was there, for us a draw would have been half a defeat. We tried until the end, the will does a lot.”
On De Ketelaere: “He is suffering, it is a different environment with different pressures. He has more knowledge than before. We signed a five-year contract with Charles, we are waiting for him, just as we are waiting for Origi. They have everything to be decisive. We have had many examples of players who took a while to understand what is needed to play at Milan.”
On the battle with Napoli: “Of course we believe it. Last year when we played the return derby we were at -7 and then we won. We know it’s not easy to keep this pace until the end, obviously we have to grow.”
On the game: “Against Napoli we played better than them and perhaps we deserved to win. Maybe at this moment we are emptied of energy.”
On Ibrahimovic: “He’s fine, let’s hope he’ll be back in January”.