The Rossoneri boss jumped to the defence of his star striker after watching his side pick up a 3-1 victory at Ennio Tardini Stadium
Stefano Pioli says Zlatan Ibrahimovic denied offending match referee Fabio Maresca after being shown a red card during Milan’s Serie A clash with Parma.
Milan bounced back from last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Sampdoria by beating Parma 3-1 at Ennio Tardini Stadium on Saturday, thanks to goals from Ante Rebic, Franck Kessie and Rafael Leao.
Pioli saw his team pick up a valuable three points despite having to play the final thirty minutes with ten men after Ibrahimovic was sent off for arguing with the referee, and was able to shed some light on that incident after the final whistle.
What’s been said?
“I was focused on the match,” the Milan boss told the club’s official media channel. “Zlatan told me that he argued with the referee and that the discussion went on, but he told me that he had not offended the referee. The discussion took place and the referee soon reached this decision.”
Asked what Ibrahimovic said to Maresca, Pioli told Sky Italia: “He told me he said to the referee, ‘You really don’t care what I tell you?'”
Milan were on course for a comfortable victory after going in at half-time with a 2-0 lead, but Parma were given hope of a comeback when Ibrahimovic was dismissed on the hour mark.
The referee’s decision to show a red card to the 39-year-old seemed to be out of the blue, with replays failing to pick up exactly what was said between the two men.
Maresca reached for his pocket after Ibrahimovic said something to him before Milan took a free kick in their own half, leaving his team-mates and the visiting coaching staff bemused.
How many games will Zlatan miss?
Ibrahimovic is now facing a three-match ban for his conduct, having been shown a straight red card instead of two yellows, which would have seen him given just a one-match suspension.
If Milan decide against appealing the decision, the veteran Swede will miss upcoming home fixtures against Genoa and Sassuolo as well as a crucial trip to Lazio on April 26.
Zlatan’s Serie A record in 2020-21
Losing Ibrahimovic heading into the businesses end of the campaign represents a significant blow for Milan, who are currently chasing the runners’ up spot in the Serie A standings.
The Rossoneri are sitting four points clear of third-placed Juventus, and eight behind leaders Inter.
Ibrahimovic has been instrumental in Milan’s rise to second, scoring 15 goals in 17 appearances, while also setting up a further two for his team-mates.