Stefano Pioli was glad to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic get another 45 minutes under his belt in Milan’s penalty shoot-out win over Torino.
Ibrahimovic, 39, made his return from injury off the bench against the same opponent in Serie A on Saturday, but started and played 45 minutes three days later as Milan reached the Coppa Italia quarter-finals with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory.
Milan head coach Pioli was happy to see the forward, who has scored 10 goals in seven Serie A matches this season, get more game time after being out for seven weeks.
“We wanted to give him a longer time compared to the previous championship game. We preferred to let him play from the beginning due to his characteristics,” he said, via Sky Sport.
“This time will be used to improve his condition in view of the next championship match.”
The clash at San Siro finished 0-0 before Hakan Calhanoglu scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after Ciprian Tatarusanu had denied Tomas Rincon.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 12, 2021
It meant Milan reached the Coppa Italia quarter-finals for the 12th consecutive season.
“I am lucky to have a team that knows how to fight, knows how to play, knows how to grit its teeth in a difficult match even for the qualities of our opponents,” Pioli said.
“For the many occasions we had, we could have avoided even reaching penalties, but we went beyond physical and mental fatigue and this is a desired qualification.”
Milan, who are three points clear atop the Serie A table, visit Cagliari on Monday.