“It was a struggle, that's true, it was complicated from the get-go, but the lads showed great character," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“Verona were stronger in the first half, better in the duels, intensity, in getting on the second ball, so they created more dangerous situations. Clearly we needed to step up a gear and improve, but I saw belief in the team at the break. It was a real show of maturity.
“What we need is maturity and consistency. If you want to aim big, you have to focus on the small things first, take every detail one at a time.
“This is the proof that the club has built a strong squad, because even with so many absentees, I still have a competitive side and many choices to make with different characteristics."
Samu Castillejo was in tears after the final whistle and Pioli added: “Samu must be seen as an example. My choices did not favour him recently, but he never stopped working, never stopped making sure he would be ready when called upon and that is the secret of this team. I am very happy for him tonight."
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