Ac Milan were cruising in Saturday’s Serie A clash thanks to first-half goals from Ante Rebic and Franck Kessie, only for Ibrahimovic – who played a part in both goals – to be sent off for dissent with an hour played.
Riccardo Gagliolo pulled a goal back for Parma six minutes later, but Milan survived a few nervy moments and added a late third at Estadio Ennio Tardini through substitute Rafael Leao.
Referee Maresca, who sent off Inter boss Antonio Conte in January, reached straight for his red card after Ibrahimovic had said something following the awarding of a free-kick to Parma.
It is the sixth time the striker has been dismissed in Serie A since his debut in the competition in 2004-05 – the joint-most for a forward alongside Francesco Totti, Goran Pandev, Domenico Berardi and Mauricio Pinilla – and Pioli has shed light on what was said.
“I was focused on the match,” he told Milan TV. “Zlatan told me that he argued with the referee and that the discussion went on, but he told me that he had not offended the referee.
“The discussion took place and the referee soon reached this decision.”
When asked by Sky Sport Italia if he had any idea what Ibrahimovic said, Pioli added: “He told me he said to the referee, ‘You really don’t care what I tell you?'”
Parma attempted 308 passes in the second half to 10-man Milan’s 119 and had double the number of attempts on target to their opponents’ two after the interval.
But Leao’s strike at the end of a swift counter led by Diogo Dalot ensured Milan came away with a 13th away league win of the season – a club record in a single top-flight campaign.
Milan’s 16 away wins this season in all competitions is the joint-most they have managed in a single campaign, meanwhile, alongside 1992-93 and 2004-05.