Pioli: “It’s never a penalty and it’s never a red, I asked the referee if VAR was working, our Champions League fate is in our hands, we showed great spirit”

Stefano Pioli during Milan-Chelsea at Stadio San Siro on October 11, 2022. (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Stefano Pioli was furious with referee Daniel Siebert as Milan lost to Chelsea again, complicating their Champions League qualification prospects.

After losing 3-0 at Samford Bridge last week, Milan hosted Chelsea last night with 75,000 fans in the stands, hoping to see the real Rossoneri in action.

For 15 minutes, Milan played well, showed intensity and quality and were at least equals to Chelsea. However, then referee Daniel Siebert decided to destroy the game in every single aspect.

Siebert gave Fikayo Tomori a red card for a slight touch on Mason Mount which resulted in Jorginho converting a penalty. Siebert then continued to simply whistle for a foul every time Milan came near the ball and gave away yellow cards to Milan players like it’s nothing. Chelsea benefited from one of the worst referees in the world and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled their lead in the 34′ minute.

Milan tried to fight and had a few chances but seemed to collapse physically at around the 70 minute and from then on Chelsea basically moved the ball around as much as they wanted until the whistle.

“The game had just started and I had the feeling we were doing well,” Pioli told Mediaset Infinity+ at the end of the match. “The red card and penalty changed the game, against a team that was already strong and did not need to have an extra man too. We had the chances to get back into it. This is a pity, we had the feeling we could really have our say this evening.”

Stefano Pioli talking with referee Daniel Siebert at the end of Milan-Chelsea at Stadio San Siro on October 11, 2022. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Do you want to look again at the penalty?
“No, it was too easy to judge that incident. I told the referee what I thought of him after the match. My English isn’t exactly fluent, but I think he got the general idea…”

Will the team react?
“It’s a negative result, but our destiny remains in our hands. If we want to prove to be competitive in Europe too, we need to win the next two, and we have every chance of doing that. Now let’s dive back into Serie A, with a difficult match against a side that is changing coach. We need to recoup our energy.”

Do you believe in qualifying?
“Absolutely yes, we have to believe in it. We must go to Zagreb to play our football, then welcome Salzburg here at San Siro. It’s a pity we were not given the opportunity to reward the crowd with a good performance this evening. We paid a very heavy price for one incident. If we were able to keep this game in the balance in the circumstances, much of the credit goes to our fans.”

Milan players reacting after Fikayo Tomori received a red card during Milan-Chelsea at Stadio San Siro on October 11, 2022. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking to Sky Italia, Pioli said: “I told the referee what I had to tell him. It’s a shame because I had the feeling that we approached the match well. The stadium gave us great energy. Unfortunately that incident put us in trouble, although we had a few chances to get back into the game. But in a numerical inferiority it was not easy to hold the pitch well.”

On the reaction after London: “We wanted to start again with a positive result against a great team. Playing with a man less was a shame. We were naïve defensively on that situation, but let’s leave it at that.”

Rade Krunić at the end of Milan-Chelsea at Stadio San Siro on October 11, 2022. (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

On qualifying: “There is disappointment, but if we want to qualify we still have our chances. It will be 2 difficult games, but we have to believe until the end.”

On making the leap forward in Europe: “We have to grow through these experiences, also to understand our level. We will try again in the last 2 matches.”

On the referee: “Football is a contact sport, Tomori just barely touched him. It’s never a penalty and it’s never a red. It’s a shame, we wanted to play it out against a strong opponent and it’s a shame we didn’t succeed.”

Rafael Leão and Mateo Kovačić during Milan-Chelsea at Stadio San Siro on October 11, 2022. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

In an interview with MilanTV, Pioli said: “Analyzing the game isn’t difficult but pretty straightforward, to be honest. We started the game with the right attitude and personality and with an impeccable mentality. But the incident took its toll on the game. For then on we really struggled. It’s disappointing because it was already a difficult game and this is not how we wanted to take Chelsea on. It was tough to take as we wanted to stay in the game until the end. But I want to reserve special praise for my players who showed great spirit despite being a man down. They tried hard and never threw in the towel. They never surrendered and we even had a couple of chances to pull one back. It’s a shame because we had other plans in this stadium and with this support. Attention now turns to Serie A, knowing that our Champions League fate is in our hands.”

On the reaction of the players: “My players rolled their sleeves up, helped each other and showed great spirit. It’s important to have a group of players who keep going even when the going gets tough by staying compact and grafting. The evening just didn’t pan out how we had hoped for.”

On the desire for revenge in the Champions League: “We need to get back to winning ways in Zagreb, a game which I deem decisive. And then we’ll think about Salzburg. But first things first as we have to face Hellas Verona and Monza in the league first. Our league position is pretty good even though we want to improve it. This was our fourth game in Europe and we need to recover some much-needed energies, not least because we played 80 minutes down to 10 men. But we will do just that to prepare our next fixture at Hellas Verona.”

Milan fans before Milan-Chelsea at Stadio San Siro on October 11, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Pioli also held a post-match press conference: “Working all week and then a penalty and a red card after 18 minutes? It’s very difficult, the match was already difficult in itself. Our opponents are among the strongest in Europe. The approach was right, we could have been dangerous. The incident messed up everything, it was a difficult game. I want to thank the fans who allowed our players to suffer and grit their teeth. A bad night.”

On Tomori’s foul and the referee’s decision: “At the end of the game I asked the referee if VAR was working…”

On the referee and similarities to the Atlético Madrid game of last season: “I think the referee tonight was not on one of his best nights.”

On how the defense will be set up with Tomori suspended: “There are still 2 more weeks to go, we will have to recover Kjær. If he doesn’t recover then we’ll move Kalulu to the center. Now we throw ourselves back into the league, knowing that qualification is still in our hands. We know this and we will prepare for the Zagreb match very well because it’ll be very important.”

Stefano Pioli during Milan-Chelsea at Stadio San Siro on October 11, 2022. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

On if the team will be able to respond: “Our Champions League did not end tonight. We are sure that we will play for it until the end. We will not even need to motivate the players. In Zagreb we want to show that we are a team that is up to this competition.”

On if anything positive can be found in this evening: “That the team had an incredible spirit. After the red card the whole game changed and they had to sacrifice a lot. The spirit and the desire to help each other, so definitely yes. Now head to Verona and then when the time comes, head to Dinamo Zagreb.”

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It was bitter to get lost but your faith on Krunic is unbelievable and more frustrating to see!!


It was a penalty!!


Take your pills


A soft penalty maybe. But fine, penalty. The red card on the other hand is ridiculous