Serie A now the focus for humbled Milan
MILAN (AFP) –
AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri says the Rossoneri will now reluctantly turn their attention to securing a top finish in Serie A after their Champions League dreams were ended by a majestic Barcelona.
Milan held a 2-0 lead from the first leg of the sides’ last-16 tie at the San Siro but their hopes of securing a quarter-final place were ended by a 4-0 second leg defeat complete with a brace of goals from Argentine forward Lionel Messi.
The Italians’ best chance of the night came just before half-time when a shot from 19-year-old Frenchman M’Baye Niang hit the woodwork, which Allegri believes was the turning point in the game.
“Niang hitting the post was a big chance for us. Sometimes, matches are decided by centimetres and this time it was the post that kept the ball out,” Allegri told acmilan.it after Tuesday’s defeat.
“Now we have to concentrate on the league. It’s disappointing as we had a good chance tonight and the players did well to create that chance.”
Despite a disastrous start to the league campaign Milan now sit third in Serie A, only two points adrift of Napoli and 11 behind leaders and champions Juventus.
While Juventus secured their Champions League quarter-final spot last week with a 5-0 aggregate rout of Celtic, Milan defender Ignazio Abate was scathing of Milan’s first-half performance.
“We gave them the first half, we didn’t play at all and that was a mistake,” said Abate. “You can’t just give them an entire half of the game. We created three or four chances in the second half but we didn’t make the most of them.
“There’s a bit of bitterness as we could have managed things better in the middle of the field. It’s a shame as we had the chance to do them some damage.”
Having lost the bulk of a hugely experienced squad in the summer, Allegri has done well to steer Milan out of the league doldrums with a mixture of youth and experience.
And the Italian, who led Milan to the league title on his first season in charge, in 2011, and a runner-up spot last year, believes their humbling in Europe could serve them well in the future.
“The players and I have nothing to regret. I’m sorry for the club and the fans but given the young age of the squad that we have now, there’ll be time to get to another Champions League semi-final or even the final,” he added.
“The players should be satisfied with what they did. With a bit of luck we’d be here talking about a completely different result. Now we think about Palermo. The team is in good shape and we’ll be ready for Sunday.”