Milan 'started badly and finished worse' in Udinese loss, says Pioli

Stefano Pioli says Milan will do what is necessary to rediscover their form, but admitted his team "started badly and ended worse" as they were beaten 3-1 at Udinese on Saturday.

The Rossoneri fell behind early to a Roberto Pereyra goal at Stadio Friuli, before a twice-taken Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty pulled them level as the 41-year-old became Serie A's oldest ever goalscorer.

However, Beto restored Udinese's lead just two minutes later and Kingsley Ehizibue added a third in the second half to give the Friulani their first home win in the league since beating Inter in September.

It made it three league games without a win for Milan, and five defeats in their last nine to leave the defending champions 20 points behind league leaders Napoli having played a game more.

"We will do what is necessary to return to playing the football that suits us best and that we are capable of playing," Pioli said after the game. "... There were no signs of a drop in intensity, instead we started badly and ended up worse.

"This is the reality, we have to work. Of course, we can't win the Scudetto but we can win the mini-championship of those fighting for the Champions League, we will be able to analyse and return to play as we know how."

The 57-year-old lamented his team for not being "aggressive, intense, precise, attentive", saying that meant he had "worked badly, making a mistake preparation. We have fallen too far below our means."

Defeat leaves them just a place and a point ahead of fifth-placed Roma, who have a game in hand, but questions were asked whether this season's Champions League campaign has proved to be a distraction.

Milan reached the quarter-finals after beating Tottenham and were drawn to face Napoli in the last eight on Friday.

"It's not like that, it would be serious if we were already thinking about the Champions League," Pioli insisted. "Getting in the first four places is too important.

"The levels of the last performances are not good, if we are less technical and organised, we play games like this. I am disappointed with our work, we have achieved too little in the last three games.

"There is always concern, now we have to take advantage of the [international] break to raise the level of play, attention, determination."