Pioli lauds Fiorentina performance in pulsating Inter draw

Pioli lauds Fiorentina performance in pulsating Inter draw

05/01/2018 23:39

Stefano Pioli was full of praise for his Fiorentina side after they produced a scintillating performance against Inter on Friday night.

Mauro Icardi put Inter ahead on 55 minutes, reacting quickest to poke home after Marco Sportiello had saved his initial effort, but Giovanni Simeone was on hand to equalise for the Viola in the first minute of stoppage time to earn a richly deserved point for Pioli’s men.

After the game, Pioli was asked what he made of Fiorentina securing back-to-back draws against AC Milan and Inter – and whether his team deserved more than two points from the two matches.

"I’ve been really very impressed by the team’s performances in these two games – they’ve been fantastic," he said, speaking in his post-match press conference. "I’m not happy with the results, of course. We needed to get the first goal tonight and I think we would have deserved that, on the basis of our play and the number of chances we created. We didn’t do that, we were made to pay the first time we switched off and came close to losing. The fact that we didn’t lose it, that we reacted and that we kept fighting right until the end is a very good sign.

"We haven’t got much in the way of reward from these two games when you look at how we’ve played, but the fact that we’re saying that shows how far we’ve come. Not so long ago two draws against AC Milan and Inter would have been huge."

Fiorentina should really have been in the lead by the time Icardi fired Inter in front early in the second half, with Pioli left rueing his team’s generosity in defence.

"If he’s the focal point for them going forward, he needs to be the focal point for us when we’re defending," he said. "We left a gap – we left ourselves too open at the back on that set piece. There was too much space and he punished us, as we knew he could. It was a mistake. We’ve worked really hard on set pieces and we’ve got a lot better, but Inter are far taller than us as a team and all it took was one lapse in concentration for us to concede. The goal changed the game because we should have been ahead ourselves – that goal prevented us from winning."

Nonetheless, Pioli was keen to express his satisfaction with the sense of team spirit clearing coursing through his side.

"The whole team is working hard and making sacrifices," he said. "In my mind, at the end of each game you need to look at what you’ve created and what you’ve had thrown at you – how many shots you’ve had, how many your opponents have had, how many chances you’ve had, how many your opponents have had and so on. We’re clearly coming out on top against better teams on paper. That shows that hard graft and team work breeds results. The only thing missing right now is to improve our finishing if we’re going to beat these big teams."

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