AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli is pleased that his team achieved their first goal of the season by reaching the Europa League group stages despite having to suffer through a 13 round penalty shootout in the process.
The Rossoneri beat Portuguese side Rio Ave 9-8 on penalties on Thursday evening in a game that saw them fall behind in extra time after taking the lead early in the second half. With the Rioavistas leading 2-1 as the game headed towards its conclusion Hakan Calhanoglu’s spot kick rescued Milan in the 122nd minute of the tie and Gianluigi Donnarumma proved to be the hero in the shootout.
“It’s difficult to control emotions, we went from winning to losing in a moment and vice versa,” Pioli said post match.
“The lottery of penalties gave very strong emotions and a great joy for having overcome a difficult opponent.
“We reached our first goal of the season and you can’t win without suffering, we were strong especially mentally, with a very young team. Even in their first experience in Europe, I am very satisfied with the final result.”
However, despite the joy of victory the Rossoneri squad left the field to bad news as they were informed that due to the length of the game they had missed their flight from Porto airport, according to a report by Milan TV.
Pioli and his team will now have to return to Italy on Friday morning which will almost certainly shorten their preparations ahead of Sunday evening’s Serie A clash with Spezia.