Vincenzo Montella said Milan showed they have ‘a soul, heart and balls’ in the incredible 1-0 win over Bologna.
It was an absolutely crazy night at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara as Milan – somehow – returned home with the win, beating Bologna 1-0, despite spending the last 30 minutes of the match with 9 men.
Milan could’ve scored early in the match but missed after Gerard Deulofeu’s blocked shot got to Mario Pasalic who sent it to the stands instead of the back of the net. The Rossoneri’s misfortune continued as before the half-hour mark, Romagnoli was forced to leave the pitch due to an injury. As if this wasn’t enough, Paletta received two quick yellow cards and in the 38′ minute was sent off, for the third time this season. And so on half time, Milan were in 10 and without their 2 starting CB’s.
Bologna tried to score but found a compact Milan at the back and a great Gianluigi Donnarumma who saved the match for il Diavolo on numerous occasions last night. In the 59′ minute the task of getting a result got even harder as Juraj Kucka picked up his second yellow card, leaving Milan in 9 men for the reminder of the match. But somehow, Milan managed to stay alive.
And not only that but in the 89′ minute, a fantastic Deulofeu dribble from the left ended with a pass to Pasalic who from close distance gave Milan the precious victory. After four consecutive defeats in all competitions, the boys of Vincenzo Montella return to winning, and what a win it was.
“It was difficult to hold in emotions after a game like this,” Montella told Sky Italia after Daniele Doveri’s final whistle. “It’s a great victory that makes us take a major step forward which is worth more than three points, as it proves this is a team with a soul, heart and balls too. After three underserved defeats as we saw on the pitch, we were out there with determination; we needed this to show ourselves that this spirit was within us and it was a victory earned with sheer determination.
“In the first half, we could’ve scored and we must do better in those cases. I told the players at half-time that this was a game that needed to be a turning point and it’s what I saw. I’d seen teams down to 10 men turn games around, but winning with nine men was even more extraordinary.
“The defeats? Naturally during the season there are peaks and troughs, but our biggest problem was a lot of injuries and defeats in quick succession, freakish defeats, because the one with Udinese you lose once a year [Milan lose that match 2-1 last month]. Those results made it look as if Milan were losing their way, but we absolutely were not. The results were bad, not the performances.
“I want to compliment Andrea Poli, as in a moment of great difficulty he was absolutely essential and helped out every single teammate [Poli was brought on from the bench in the 62nd minute]. It’s with this spirit that you become a winning team. He had an injury too, so we were basically down to eight and a half men, but he worked so hard and I wanted to single him out for praise.
“Bacca? He’s part of the team, there’s a lot of talk but little disagreements are part of the locker room. He rejoiced with us after the win and the participated in the happiness of the boys. Deulofeu? When Galliani and [sporting director] Maiorino proposed him, I said that I know him very well. I’ve followed him a lot and I didn’t know if he was on the market. When I found out he was, I gave my approval.”
“We did not win this game by chance, this team really wanted it,” the boss said in the post-match press conference. “We needed to show we were capable of putting this negative spell to an end and we did it. It was an epic win. Numerical inferiority? We always played to win the game.
“During the break, I told the boys we could do it. With this win, we end the first half of the season with 39 points and we want to do even better in this second half. Poli? For me, he was the best, he came on with such a great attitude and he was decisive. His performance is the result of how well he trains Deulofeu? [Everton boss Ronald] Koeman uses the ball a lot in training, I was expecting to find him in good shape. He’s a quality player and perfectly fits our style of play.”
Speaking to Premium Sport at the end of the encounter, Montella added: “This is a moment that didn’t come by chance. The players put the souls on the pitch and it’s and it’s a well-deserved victory. We could’ve gone up in the first 20 minutes right away. This goes beyond the three points, the boys played with the real will to win, stay close and made themselves available for each other.
“The energies of the team? Pasalic has important physical qualities. We wanted to win in 10 men… there are millions of stories of teams in numerical inferiority that overturned the result but I didn’t think it could happen once we went down to 9. In fact, we were 8.5 because of Poli’s injury.
“It’s a victory that gives you more than just the three points. The defensive errors? Lately they’ve been individual mistakes, we need to see if it’s because of lack of mental energy of something else. The many red cards? They’re analyzed… I don’t want to talk about referees, even more so when you win.
Bacca? I hugged every player a bit as we are a united group and we’ve demonstrated it. Sometimes there is some disagreement but this is part of the normality and the will to win is shared by all of us. Deulofeu? He played an incredible game and he preoccupied their defense alone. But it was Poli who gave us something more, helping his teammates at the time of maximum difficulty.
“Playing Deulofeu as a false 9? Bacca fought a lot. In the spaces that were there in the second half he could’ve done better. I like to play Geri there but it depends on the harmony of the team. He is different than [Napoli’s] Dries Mertens, but he can play this role.
“The many absences against Lazio? Is it not postponed? (laughs).” The match against Lazio, at Stadio Olimpico, is on Monday night (January 13) at 20:45 CET and Montella will have to find his solutions.