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Zlatan Ibrahimović

'Even Ibrahimovic will have to catch his breath' - AC Milan star must rest 'now and then' despite surprising 'physical condition', says Pioli

08:43 GMT 27/10/2020
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC Milan 2020-21
The Rossoneri manager was full of praise for the Swedish striker after seeing his fine start to the 2020-21 campaign continue against Roma

Zlatan Ibrahimovic must rest "every now and then" despite his surprising "physical condition", according to Stefano Pioli, who insists that even AC Milan's star man "will have to catch his breath".

Ibrahimovic took his tally to six goals in five Serie A appearances at the start of the new season by netting twice in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Roma on Monday night.

The 39-year-old opened the scoring in the second minute at San Siro, knocking the ball past Antonio Mirante in the Giallorossi net after latching onto a superb Rafael Leao through ball.

Edin Dzeko headed an equaliser for the visitors 12 minutes later, but Milan regained the advantage just before the interval via an Alexis Saelemaekers strike.

Jordan Veretout drew Roma level again 20 minutes from time when he slotted home from the penalty spot, before Ibrahimovic produced an equally composed finish from 12 yards at the other end to set Milan on their way to a fifth successive victory.

Paulo Fonseca's side were not to be denied though, with Marash Kumbulla turning home a deflected corner at the back post late on to ensure that both sides shared the spoils.

Pioli hailed Ibrahimovic for delivering the goods in the final third once again, but warned he will need to conserve his energy amid a congested fixture list as the season progresses.

"It is never easy to score so many goals at the beginning of the season, he is surprising me with his physical condition, also because he has made a particular preparation," the Milan boss told reporters.

"Then every now and then he too will have to catch his breath."

Pioli also reserved special praise for four more members of his senior squad, beginning with 21-year-old midfielder Leao, who is just starting to deliver on his considerable potential at San Siro.

"During the week I spoke quite clearly to Rafa about what I expect from him, I am very happy with his performance. He must insist this way, he is a very young and strong guy," he said.

"Saelemaekers is growing a lot, also [Samu] Castillejo, [Ante] Rebic is missing for more than a month, [Jens Petter] Hauge was doing well. We raised the level of the squad."

Pioli added on Milan managing to retain their spot at the top of Serie A and extend their unbeaten start to the season: "I go home satisfied with the performance, we don't have to look at the standings.

"It is useless to hide it, at the end of the game the players were not satisfied, there are regrets, we tried until the end."