Injury-hit Milan squeaked past Fiorentina 1-0 in Saturday’s hard-fought Serie A encounter at the San Siro to end a barren league run. Theo Hernandez’s first-half penalty made the difference at full-time, but the home side’s performance flattered to deceive.

Milan headed into the international break amid a rough patch. Rossoneri dropped a 2-0 lead in a frustrating 2-2 draw at Lecce last time out, marking their fourth consecutive winless outing in Serie A. A string of underwhelming results saw Stefano Pioli’s side slide to third, eight points below pacesetters Inter. 

Tonight’s win helped Milan reduce the gap to five, at least temporarily, as Inter and Juventus go head-to-head in Sunday’s blockbuster. But since Pioli had to field an understrength lineup against one of their fellow top-four rivals, even an unconvincing victory was enough to offer the under-pressure manager some respite. 

Speaking to the press in the aftermath, the Milan boss hailed his side’s collective effort. But he admitted Rossoneri’s performance was well below their standard. 

It is natural that our performance was not the sharpest, not the one with the most quality. We had a good first half, then mentally it couldn’t be our best performance and yet we made progress there by suffering, holding out, and bringing home the points,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia, as quoted by Gianluca Di Marzio

Pioli also explained how Milan had to exorcise the ghosts of recent slip-ups that have seen his side relinquish leads after halftime.

We had in our heads that we had always either been pegged back or lost in the second half during the previous matches. This victory must give us more confidence and faith going forward.”

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