Stefano Pioli has praised Rafael Leao’s versatility after the Portuguese scored twice in Sunday’s 3-0 Serie A win over Spezia at San Siro.
Milan struggled in the first half against the newly-promoted side but a double from Leao either side of a fine Theo Hernandez goal ensured the Rossoneri made it three wins from three to start the new domestic campaign.
Pioli previously said he expected Leao to “explode” this season after the 21-year-old scored six goals from 12 league starts in his maiden Milan campaign in 2019-20.
Leao started as a wide forward against Spezia but can also play as a central striker; versatility that Pioli hopes to utilise throughout the season.
The first of the season!
Primo squillo della stagione! #MilanSpezia #SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/yQAfCjF9oD
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 4, 2020
“I’m happy with his performance,” the Milan boss told a media conference. “He has been working for a few days but he was ready and played well both as a winger and as a central striker.
“This allows me to have many solutions for a demanding calendar. He knows very well that he is not at 100 per cent but he has the qualities to do well and help the team.”
Six players kept their places after Thursday’s penalty shoot-out win over Rio Ave in the Europa League play-offs, and a lack of freshness was apparent in the first half, with Milan struggling to break down Spezia.
Pioli was not too concerned about his side’s display, though, and commended them for remaining patient.
“I always expect the best possible match,” he added. “In the first half we played well but maybe the ball wasn’t moving that fast. The performance was there.
“It’s quite normal to relax a little after having played such a tiring game. We were mature today. We managed to stay focused and intense.”
Milan face city rivals Inter following the international break in two weeks’ time.