Zlatan Ibrahimovic ignited a late comeback against Serie A leaders Juventus and then declared that if he had been at AC Milan from the start of the season, they would be Italian champions.
With Milan two goals down on Tuesday, Ibrahimovic converted a 62nd minute penalty for his sixth goal this season. Four minutes later he set up Franck Kessie for the equaliser then immediately headed for the bench where he spent the rest of the match giving advice to team-mates as Milan scored twice more for a 4-2 victory.
Rafael Leao hit Milan’s third goal in five minutes as Ibrahimovic reached the bench and Ante Rebic added the fourth in the 80th minute behind closed doors at the San Siro.
“I’m president, coach and player but I’m only paid as a footballer,” Ibrahimovic, who rejoined Milan from LA Galaxy on a six-month contract at the end of December, told broadcaster DAZN after the game. “If I had been here from the start we’d have won the Scudetto.”
“I’m old, it’s no secret, but it’s just a number,” said the 38-year-old Swede. “I played more today than the last game. I feel good, to be honest, and I am trying to help the team in every way.”
Speculation surrounds the future of Milan coach Stefano Pioli and Ibrahimovic was coy on whether he would be back next season.
“There’s still a month to go and let’s see, there are things here that we’re not in control. Playing without fans is a shame, a strange situation,” Ibrahimovic said. “It could have been the last time you see me live at San Siro.
“I like playing in this Milan team, I do what I can do intelligently, I arrive and then if I don’t make a difference I don’t like it. I want to help my team-mates and the fans.”
The defeat meant Juventus wasted the chance to move 10 points clear at the top of Serie A after second-placed Lazio’s shock defeat at Lecce, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s side sit seven points clear with seven matches remaining and remain on track for a ninth straight title.
Maurizio Sarri’s men had led through goals from Adrien Rabiot and Ronaldo early in the second half.
“I think our first 60 minutes were world-class,” Sarri told DAZN. “We were in total control and had this blackout. There’s not even much use thinking too much about it, because we have another game in three days.
“It’s usually not even possible to find the reasons for these inexplicable blackouts.
“The defence was fine up until the 62nd minute, as we didn’t allow Milan a single chance before then. The blackout hit everyone. You can change all 11 players at that moment and it won’t make a difference.”
The loss snapped the Turin giants’ seven-game winning run in the league.
Milan boosted their hopes of European qualification by moving above Roma and Napoli into fifth and Pioli said he was focused only on the remaining games.
“I am not remotely thinking about August 3 or the future. I am thinking of the next game,” the coach said. “There have been some tough moments, but I love what I do.”