Pioli pleased as Milan finally beat one of Serie A's big hitters

Getty Images

Stefano Pioli was delighted to reflect on a Milan victory over one of Serie A's leading sides after they defeated Roma 2-0 at home on Sunday.

The Rossoneri had lost all six of their league matches against the top five of Juventus, Lazio, Inter, Atalanta and Roma prior to the latter's trip to San Siro.

Roma had won three on the bounce in Serie A, too, but they were well below par - as were Milan for the first 75 minutes - before Ante Rebic scored his eighth goal of the season and Hakan Calhanoglu converted a late penalty. 

"It was very hot, so it was unthinkable to play at an intense rhythm for 90 minutes," Pioli told DAZN.

"We deservedly won the game because we worked as a team throughout, even with a few mistakes, and it had been a long time since we'd won against one of the big clubs.

“It had only been the result missing in those fixtures and not the performances, as we were only really poor against Atalanta.

"This victory therefore boosts confidence, but the next match is always the most important."

Rebic's strike 14 minutes from time continued his fine form, with all of his eight goals coming since the turn of the year.

Used mainly as a winger with former club Eintracht Frankfurt, he is now thriving in the striker's role at Milan, who remain without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"He was an important reference point and attacked the space," Pioli added of Rebic.

"He can certainly improve, as he's not just strong physically but also has excellent technique.

"I think he needs to just get used to being more of a centre-forward than a winger. If he maintains this attitude, he can certainly do well."

Atalanta's sixth successive win in Serie A later on Sunday meant Roma fell nine points behind in the race for the final Champions League qualification spot.

"There is not a lot of time to recover, we have to play on two days' rest," Roma boss Paulo Fonseca said about the challenges ahead.

"Keeping consistency is not easy when you need to change players so much. It won't be easy, but we are ready to keep on fighting until the end."