Milan may have secured a late victory over Parma on Sunday, but head coach Stefano Pioli admitted their problems have not been totally resolved yet.

Left-back Theo Hernandez struck two minutes from time in Sunday's clash at Stadio Ennio Tardini to end the Rossoneri's three-match winless run in Serie A.

Milan, 11th in the table, have won only two of their seven matches since Pioli replaced Marco Giampaolo last month, and the ex-Fiorentina boss acknowledged there is still work to do.

"The team was aware of the importance of this match," he told Sky Sport Italia. "We have had some good performances without having collected anything.

"We knew what we had to do today and we deservedly won against a strong and organised Parma side.

"The victory does not fix all of our problems. From here until Christmas I want to collect as many points as possible. 

"There is still a lot to do, but I am satisfied with today's performance."

Krzysztof Piatek missed a good chance at 0-0 and was replaced just after the hour mark, but Pioli has called on others to help the out-of-form striker.

"He is not smiling, but that is to be expected as we are professionals," he said. "It is clear that we need to support him.

"This group of players wants to get us out of trouble and they are all very motivated. Those that started did very well and now we think about Bologna."

A lack of goals has proved costly for Milan in recent weeks and they struggled to put away their chances against Parma before Hernandez's late strike.

Pioli is working to find a solution in attack and is hopeful his players will take confidence from a first win since the end of October.

"We are starting to work more as a team, with more cohesion and compactness," he added at his post-match news conference. 

"We have to work to grow and improve. If the victory had not arrived there would have been questions, but we have to continue concentrating.

"The goal now is to think about the next match and maintain our level of performance. Today's three points against a strong opponent gives us confidence."

Parma conceded a 95th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Bologna last week, though they remain a point clear of Milan and head coach Roberto D'Aversa was quick to put Sunday's defeat into context.

"They may be behind us in the table but they're a team that were expected to finish in a Champions League spot at the beginning of the season," he told reporters.

"We must give credit to the opposition. We have to consider the fact we played against Milan.

"In the last few minutes today, and the last seconds against Bologna, we have thrown away some points. That must not happen because points are important if we are to reach our goal."

AC Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek wants to be worth as much as €70million by the time he eventually leaves the club. 

Piatek signed for Milan in January after enjoying an extraordinary start to life in Serie A at Genoa.

The Poland striker scored 13 league goals in 19 appearances during the first half of the 2018-19 season, leading to a big-money move for a reported fee of €35m.

He had no trouble maintaining his form following his switch to San Siro - scoring a further nine league goals - but has failed to recapture those levels so far this campaign, netting just three times.

However, Piatek remains confident in his ability to succeed with the Rossoneri.

"When I moved to Milan it all happened so fast that I didn't even ask questions," the 24-year-old, who scored in Poland's 2-1 win over Israel on Saturday, told television channel TVP Sport.

"I was focused on work, in football yes, it's always about setting new goals. Now I'm worth €38m, the next time I change clubs, I'd like to be worth €60-70m.

"I have to be ambitious, I'll work for it, I'm at the beginning of my career, it's only my second season in Serie A, one of the top five leagues [in Europe]."

Piatek also believes the reaction of the Italian press to his loss of form has made matters more difficult at Milan, who sacked coach Marco Giampaolo earlier in the season and currently languish down in 14th place in the table.

"I look in the mirror and look for the blame inside of me. At the beginning, as a team, we didn't create so many opportunities. We're improving, I'm going to score again," he said during the interview.

"For Italian journalists, one day you're the soccer pope and the next day you're the worst player.

"I accept it. Nobody put themselves in my shoes, the covers of the newspapers don't impact me."

Stefano Pioli's reign as AC Milan coach got off to an underwhelming start as Marco Calderoni's stunning late equaliser secured struggling Lecce a 2-2 draw in San Siro.

Krzysztof Piatek had seemingly secured former Inter boss Pioli – who replaced Marco Giampaolo during the international break – a debut win with his 81st-minute goal, but Calderoni struck in stoppage time to ensure Milan dropped points for the fifth time in eight games this season.

The impressive Hakan Calhanoglu powered Milan into the lead with a fine strike following Lucas Biglia's pass, but they struggled to maintain their lively start and faded towards half-time.

Khouma Babacar found the net from close range after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his penalty in the second half, and then Piatek's strike was cancelled out by Calderoni's long-range drive to prevent Milan from moving back into the top half of the table.

Marco Giampaolo insists he cannot afford to give up on Krzysztof Piatek amid reports the misfiring AC Milan striker will be dropped again this weekend.

Milan have taken just six points from their first six Serie A matches of the season, with new head coach Giampaolo already endured four defeats, while Piatek has scored only twice.

The Poland international was outstanding last term, netting 13 times for Genoa in the first half of the league campaign before joining Milan in a €35million deal and notching a further nine.

Rather than back Piatek to rediscover this form and lift the Rossoneri, however, it has been reported Giampaolo is thinking of leaving him out of the side for Saturday's trip to Genoa - just as he started from the bench against Brescia in August.

The coach would not rule out dropping Piatek but was adamant he is standing by the 24-year-old.

"Milan cannot give up on the most prolific striker in the league from last season," Giampaolo told a news conference. "If he does not score, who does? I can't do it.

"Piatek needs to endure it. He might have to spend some time on the bench like against Brescia but we need to have faith in him. The important players need to be in the trenches."

Giampaolo does not believe he has reason to question the Milan players' desire to perform for him, but he would rather they focused on themselves than their coach.

"At times of difficulty, the first thing a person can do is focus more," Giampaolo said. "Players then have to give their lives for the shirt and not for me.

"I've seen enthusiasm from the players from the first day, in their work and the training methods. That means that the team believes in what it's doing.

"We need to have strength in defeat, keep things steady, roll up our sleeves and focus on the details."

Giampaolo is not interested in making excuses, though, adding: "Nobody was expecting this situation but we're in it now and we have to get out of it.

"I won't discuss the fans' discontent or protests, but the team hasn't expressed itself as well it should have."

"We need to take responsibility in the right way and find the composure to play well on the ball. I'm worried about these dynamics.

"Following the past two defeats, you can't fail to pay more attention. But we also need the right character to play football. There's no other way."

Barcelona are planning for life after Uruguay striker Luis Suarez.

The 32-year-old is highly regarded at Camp Nou, however, he has struggled for form and consistency.

Now, LaLiga champions Barca appear to be lining up a possible replacement.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA READY TO SPEND €50M ON PIATEK

Barcelona are interested in signing AC Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek as a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez, says Calciomercato.it.

Suarez celebrates his 33rd birthday in January and the Barca veteran is showing signs of decline at the LaLiga champions, where he has struggled for form and consistency.

Barca will look to bring in a new face in January, with the Spanish giants ready to spend €50million on Piatek, while RB Leipzig's Timo Werner, Getafe forward Jaime Mata and Juventus veteran Mario Mandzukic have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus have set their sights on three Premier League players – Chelsea's Willian, and Tottenham pair Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld, according to Tuttosport. The trio will be available on free transfers at the end of the season and Eriksen tops Juve's wish list.

- The Daily Mail says Tottenham have opened contract talks with defender Jan Vertonghen. The Belgium international is out of contract at season's end and Spurs are reluctant to lose him on a free transfer.

- AC Milan are interested in signing Nice star Arnaud Lusamba, according to Calciomercato. The 22-year-old midfielder is contracted to the Ligue 1 club until 2021.

Arsenal will send scouts to watch Salzburg and Hungary star Dominik Szoboszlai in Wednesday's Champions League showdown against Liverpool, reports the Daily Mail. The 18-year-old sensation has also attracted interested from Serie A trio Juventus, Inter and Lazio.

- Eredivisie side PSV are interested in signing Manchester United's Tahith Chong on loan in January, according to the Daily Mail. The 19-year-old Dutch winger, who arrived from Feyenoord in 2016, has been involved with the first team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

AC Milan failed to bounce back from their derby defeat to Inter, as Andrea Belotti's late brace secured Torino a 2-1 win on Thursday.

Milan coach Marco Giampaolo was left fielding questions about whether he felt "at risk" of the sack following the Inter loss, and his side's inability to hold on to their lead in Turin will likely increase the uncertainty after just two wins from five in Serie A.

The visitors began the entertaining contest well enough and were good value for the lead when Krzysztof Piatek dispatched a first-half penalty, but they were made to rue not adding to that.

Belotti levelled for a resurgent Torino deep into the second half and then got the winner four minutes later, with goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma failing to cover himself in glory for either.

Milan's start gave every indication the breakthrough would come from them and they opened the scoring 18 minutes in – Piatek coolly converting from 12 yards after Lorenzo De Silvestri nudged over Rafael Leao in the box.

Torino twice had to rely on Salvatore Sirigu to remain only one behind shortly after, the goalkeeper tipping Leao's looping header over before stopping Hakan Calhanoglu's long-range effort.

Donnarumma's decision to charge out of his box just before the interval allowed Torino the chance to level, but Belotti shot over the open goal.

Piatek nearly took full advantage early in the second half when steering agonisingly wide from 10 yards, though Torino soon became the more threatening side.

Torino's pressure eventually told 18 minutes from time, as Belotti cut in from the left and unleashed a fierce drive that found the net despite Donnarumma getting a hand to it.

Belotti completed the turnaround a few moments later, inadvertently flicking the ball up for himself and then acrobatically netting from close range after Simone Zaza's effort was parried by Donnarumma.

Milan twice might have equalised in stoppage time, but Franck Kessie inexplicably blazed over from six yards, before Sirigu pulled off a point-blank save to keep out Piatek's header.

AC Milan coach Marco Giampaolo reflected on "issues" to deal with in his side after watching them beat Verona 1-0 in a game that left him determined to improve the Rossoneri attack.

A turbulent match was settled by Krzysztof Piatek's second-half penalty, which came after Verona had Mariusz Stepinski sent off and before Milan's Davide Calabria was given his marching orders, and Giampaolo acknowledged that the margin of victory was a narrow one.

He pointed to Verona's packed defence as a significant factor in his side's struggle for goals and also took a swipe at his predecessor, Gennaro Gattuso, by saying that his side had not yet learned to play as a collective.

"The team is working well, finding its balance and I know there are some strengths and weaknesses, but I work to improve the individuals and the team," Giampaolo told Sky Sport Italia.

"Everyone has strengths and weaknesses; there is no perfect side. I like the effort and passion we put into the game, but errors can happen.

"A team that defends with 10 men in their final third are difficult to break down. Verona played their honest defensive game and we were constantly pushing forward. We didn't do it perfectly and of course there is plenty to work on and improve, but the victory helps us to work.

"I won't just brush the dust under the carpet; I know full well we need to improve and there are issues we have to deal with."

The result left Milan with two wins and a defeat from their opening three games of the 2019-20 Serie A season and performances have been steadily improving.

After failing to register a shot on target in their 1-0 defeat to Udinese, Milan edged to a 1-0 victory over Brescia.

Against Verona, Milan had 17 shots on goal, with Suso, Hakan Calhanoglu and Franck Kessie picking their hosts apart with some intelligent approach play, but Giampaolo said his plans for the team have yet to be realised.

"I don't like to improvise," he said. "I want my team to have a structure to work on and some guarantees to build on. There are many talented individuals in the side and I still need to get them to fit within the context of the team unit.

"We must be honest. I don't hide. This team is trying and is accustomed to playing as individuals, whereas I must get them working in the service of the collective.

"We must learn to attack better, that is true."

Krzysztof Piatek scored his first Serie A goal of the season to help 10-man AC Milan secure back-to-back victories in a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona, who also had a man sent off in a tempestuous clash at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi.

Rossoneri boss Marco Giampaolo restored Piatek to the starting line-up after dropping him from his previous teamsheet and he tucked away a second-half penalty to ensure the visitors claimed all three points from a bruising encounter.

Verona had Mariusz Stepinski sent off after 21 minutes for a dangerous challenge but the newly promoted side matched Milan for long periods and caused Giampaolo's defence plenty of problems.

Milan are improving as the season progresses and, after failing to register a shot on goal in their 1-0 defeat at Udinese on the opening day, they created ample opportunities to score here as Suso took up his role as creator in chief.

But the chance that mattered most was Piatek's spot-kick, and the 24-year-old, who scored nine league goals last season, opened his account for 2019-20 before Davide Calabria was dismissed in second-half stoppage-time.

Milan were on the back foot early on as Gianluigi Donnarumma made a double-save, parrying Marco Faraoni's cross away from goal before claiming Mattia Zaccagni's overhead kick in both hands.

Verona were on top when Stepinski caught Mateo Musacchio on the ear with a high challenge that earned him a straight red card following a VAR review.

But the 10 men continued to press and Valerio Verre fired over the crossbar in spectacular style when he controlled a long pass and volleyed with exceptional control.

Substitute Ante Rebic should have broken the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half but he mistimed his shot and Suso's weighted cross went to waste.

Davide Calabria thundered a volley onto the post from 30 yards as Milan heaped pressure on their hosts, who hit the post themselves through Verre before a handball in the box by Verona defender Koray Gunter presented Piatek with a chance from the penalty spot that he lashed into the bottom corner of the net.

Piatek had the ball in the net again when Marco Silvestri spilled Hakan Calhanoglu's shot and he slid in to poke it over the line, but after a VAR review the referee judged a foul had been committed.

There was more late drama as Calabria caught Matteo Pessina with his arm as the substitute headed towards the box. The Milan full-back was sent for an early shower but Verona's Miguel Veloso and Darko Lazovic missed chances to grab a late, late equaliser.

What does it mean? Giampaolo's men improving

Two wins from their first three outings of the season is a reasonable start for Milan, who are starting to gel in attack and are cutting out mistakes at the back.

Suso so important

Milan function best when Suso is on form and he was their attacking lynchpin here, dictating play and constantly probing at a resolute Verona defence.

Paqueta hooked after quiet half

Lucas Paqueta was ineffective in attack in the first half and Milan improved substantially after he was replaced by Rebic.

What's next?

The Milan derby is next up for Giampaolo's men as they aim to be the first side to take points from Inter this season, while Verona take on champions Juventus in Turin.

Krzysztof Piatek scored his first Serie A goal of the season to help 10-man AC Milan secure back-to-back victories in a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona, who also had a man sent off in a tempestuous clash at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi.

Rossoneri boss Marco Giampaolo restored Piatek to the starting line-up after dropping him from his previous teamsheet and he tucked away a second-half penalty to ensure the visitors claimed all three points from a bruising encounter.

Verona had Mariusz Stepinski sent off after 21 minutes for a dangerous challenge but the newly promoted side matched Milan for long periods and caused Giampaolo's defence plenty of problems.

Milan are improving as the season progresses and, after failing to register a shot on goal in their 1-0 defeat at Udinese on the opening day, they created ample opportunities to score here as Suso took up his role as creator in chief.

But the chance that mattered most was Piatek's spot-kick, and the 24-year-old, who scored nine league goals last season, opened his account for 2019-20 before Davide Calabria was dismissed in second-half stoppage-time.

Marco Giampaolo wants AC Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek to become a complete player, insisting the Poland international cannot just be "a poacher".

Piatek scored nine Serie A goals for Milan last term following his January arrival from Genoa.

However, the 24-year-old is yet to score this season and was named on the bench against Brescia following Milan's opening-day defeat to Udinese.

Giampaolo, though, has been impressed by Piatek's response to being dropped, but insists he needs the forward to start offering more in general play.

"I liked him over the last three days," Giampaolo said ahead of Sunday's clash with Hellas Verona.

"Piatek shouldn't just focus on attacking in the final third like a poacher, he ought to be more of a complete player.

"We are Milan, we can't always just pump long balls up, we need to pass it around. He knows how to do it, I've seen him in training, he just has to play like a complete player.

"Goals mustn't be an obsession either, he should focus on playing well and the goals will come as a consequence."

The former Sampdoria coach also believes Milan's players will adapt to his style of play, even if they have failed to impress in their opening two fixtures.

"I am confident that things will improve with hard work and enthusiasm," he said.

"I admire the dedication they show in training and I feel they are increasingly becoming a team. I want to make our identity clearer at all times, in attack and defence.

"It doesn't concern me that Verona is traditionally a tough place for Milan to play in, as I don't really believe in these things.

"The team must fight for victory in any arena. It's the attitude that makes the difference and I see the right approach now."

AC Milan head coach Marco Giampaolo defended his decision to bench Krzysztof Piatek, while he said Lucas Paqueta must learn to be "a little less Brazilian."

Piatek was named among the substitutes as Milan edged Brescia 1-0 at San Siro on Saturday to celebrate their first victory under Giampaolo.

Giampaolo made changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Udinese on the opening weekend, with prolific scorer Piatek dropped to the bench in favour of Andre Silva before he was introduced just past the hour mark.

The move sparked questions and Giampaolo explained his decision after Hakan Calhanoglu's early header settled the contest in Milan.

"Every game requires its own choices and in this one I chose Andre Silva and [Ismael] Bennacer," Giampaolo told DAZN.

"Milan have a strong squad, so I have the option to choose between various alternatives. I don't know if Andre Silva is leaving before the transfer deadline, but he is a professional, he is at our disposal and therefore he can play.

"Piatek is a great player, but if he is on the bench occasionally, the world isn't going to end. Players must think only of giving their all for Milan, then I'll make my decisions. Maybe I saw he wasn't quite as sharp during the week in training as some others."

Brazilian midfielder Paqueta also started on the bench after he was named in Giampaolo's line-up against Udinese last week.

Asked about Paqueta – who was introduced for scorer Calhanoglu in the 65th minute – Giampaolo said: "In the way I see things, Paqueta can be an excellent mezz'ala.

"He just needs to learn to be a little less Brazilian at times, more solid and less playful.

"I think he can be a mezz'ala, but then in the final 10 minutes, in some situations, he could be used as a trequartista, but I like a player who is more attacking in his characteristics."

Andriy Shevchenko has backed fellow legends Paolo Maldini and Zvonimir Boban to put AC Milan "back where it used to be" after they were given key roles at the club.

Former Rossoneri captain Maldini was appointed technical director in June while Boban, who won four Serie A titles and the Champions League during his spell at Milan, is now their chief football officer.

Shevchenko, who played alongside Maldini and Boban at San Siro, is confident the pair can help turn Milan's fortunes around after a disappointing 2018-19 season in which the club finished fifth in Serie A, missing out on a place in the Champions League.

"Maldini and Boban will guarantee that the club mentality does not change," Shevchenko told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"They will do well. Paolo is growing as a manager.

"The expectations are high, but I believe that Paolo and 'Zvone' will bring Milan back where they used to be."

Marco Giampaolo was appointed head coach in June and Shevchenko has been impressed by the former Sampdoria and Empoli boss.

"He seems like a guy with strong ideas, like these managers [Maldini and Boban]," said Shevchenko.

"Giampaolo is a coach who can achieve great results through play. He gives the impression he is prepared: I believe it was a good choice."

Shevchenko also has high hopes for striker Krzysztof Piatek, who scored nine goals in 18 Serie A appearances for the club in the second half of last season.

Piatek is set to wear the iconic number nine shirt, following on from such names as Filippo Inzaghi, Marco van Basten and George Weah, and Shevchenko said the Poland international is a worthy successor.

"The way he entered Milan, the naturalness, the important goals he scored, it was a great impact and now it is right that Kris also takes responsibility for such an important shirt," said Shevchenko.

"It's not just about wearing certain shirts. Milan's story itself is both beautiful and difficult to wear on the skin.

"This is demonstrated by the attachment of the fans: in recent times the results have not been the same, yet I have seen that at Milanello for the first day of training there were thousands of people."

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