AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has admitted he was worried in the lead up to his sides 2-0 victory over Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League qualifiers in Dublin on Thursday evening.
A calm first half finish by striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a long range effort by Hakan Calhanoglu with 20 minutes remaining were enough to ensure the Rossoneri cruised into the third round of qualifying games.
But Pioli admitted he had concerns about how his team would perform with only three weeks having past since they played their final Serie A game of the 2019/20 season and the beginning of the new campaign.
“Yesterday at the press conference I was confident but inside I was worried,” Pioli said to Sky Sport after the game.
“We were facing an opponent who was better than us and playing after only three weeks [of rest] wasn’t easy.”
“We put in a serious and careful performance, we need to improve and grow but it was a positive test.”
The 54-year-old also praised striker Ibrahimovic for his performance on the evening in a contest that posed a serious threat of an upset.
“He is too intelligent on the pitch, he knows where to position himself,” Pioli added.
“At the beginning of the game he was too far away from goal to play, then he created many important situations.”
“I expect this and even more from him.”
Before Pioli could escape the microphones he faced the inevitable questions regarding the transfer speculation linking Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa to the club, but he laughed off a question asking if he would be calling the striker when he left the press conference.
“Now I’m going to the hotel, I’ll call my family and I wish you goodnight,” Pioli laughed.