AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has opened up about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s red card and near-fisticuffs with Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku, adding that the Swede apologized to the dressing room.
The Rossoneri crashed out of the Coppa Italia at the quarter-final stage after losing 2:1 to city rivals Inter at the San Siro on Tuesday night.
Ibrahimovic opened the scoring for his side in the 31st minute but was shown a yellow card after a heated exchange with Romelu Lukaku which nearly resulted in fisticuffs. This was after the Belgian striker reacted angrily to a foul from Alessio Romagnoli.
The 39-year-old and Lukaku had to be pulled apart by their respective teammates as they squared up to each other just before the interval. They continued hurling insults at each other as they walked down the tunnel to their dressing rooms.
At a point, Lukaku was heard saying “Well, let’s go inside you b*tch!” to Ibrahimovic as tempers flared. He also went on to accuse Ibrahimovic of insulting his mother.
Milan were eventually reduced to 10 men in the early stages of the second half after Ibrahimovic was yellow-carded for a second time after another controversial incident that pictured him tripping Aleksandar Kolarov.
The Rossoneri were left with a mountain to climb from then as they couldn’t hold on. Lukaku equalized for Inter via a penalty in the 71st minute before substitute Christian Eriksen scored a free-kick in stoppage time to secure victory.
Milan boss Pioli subsequently addressed Ibrahimovic’s antics in his post-match interview with Rai Sport.
“It influenced the sending off because he was booked there. I don’t know what they said. It can happen, we have to think about the next one.
“The second yellow card was from his desire to track back and help the team. He could’ve slowed down, but it happens.
“In the dressing room he apologised.”
Pioli expressed disappointment with the final result but didn’t criticize the performance of his players whilst highlighting the ed card incident as the turning point in the game.
“We are sorry to have gone out of this competition, we wanted to win. We were able to keep up with a very strong opponent. Being outnumbered has complicated the situation,” Pioli added.
“I had some important responses from the team, the performance was there. I come out of this defeat feeling positive and confident for the future. Only the numerical difference made the difference.
“In 11 vs 11 it was an open game and we were ahead.”