Character of Milan 'second to none', claims Pioli after late show against Spezia

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Stefano Pioli believes the character of his Milan side is "second to none" after the reigning Serie A champions secured a late win against Spezia on Saturday.

Olivier Giroud came off the bench at San Siro to score an 89th-minute winner in the 2-1 victory, though was then sent off for a second booking after removing his shirt while celebrating.

Pioli was full of praise for the mental strength of his team after the win, which took Milan up to second and back to within six points of league leaders Napoli after the latter beat Atalanta.

"Our mentality is to believe in what we do," he told Sky. "As far as character is concerned, we are second to none."

Theo Hernandez put Milan in front with a first-half volley from close range, only for Daniel Maldini - son of Milan legend and technical director Paolo - to equalise against his parent club with Spezia's first away goal of the season.

Maldini's goal came 5,333 days after his father's last one at San Siro in March 2008.

Pioli did not seem to mind Maldini scoring, particularly because his team eventually secured the win, and declared that his father was able to experience the best of both worlds, with his son scoring and his team winning.

"Daniel Maldini's goal? It was the perfect evening for Paolo," the Rossoneri head coach joked.

"The match was difficult, we made it complicated... I liked the first half, [but] we have to work to close the game early."

On Giroud's red, with the French striker later claiming he had forgotten he was on a yellow card, Pioli said: "He is a very strong guy, and I am very happy with his performances.

"Tonight, he was naive."