Dramatic late show seals Champions League spot for Milan

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Gabriele Maltinti/Getty ImagesMario Balotelli celebrates after Milan rallied to win with two late goals at Siena, including Balotelli's equalising penalty kick in the 84th minute. Philippe Mexes scored the winner three minutes later.

With little over six minutes remaining at the Artemio Franchi on Sunday night, Milan's season appeared to be set to end with a whimper. With their Champions League aspirations hanging in the balance, up stepped Mario Balotelli and goal-scoring hero Philippe Mexes to rescue a 2-1 win over Siena.

It was a dramatic ending to what had been a dire game from a Milan perspective, as they struggled to clinch what was expected to be a comfortable victory.

Having fallen behind, and coupled with Fiorentina's clinical demolition of Pescara, it appeared that Massimiliano Allegri's side were destined for the Europa League as they lacked any sort of inspiration to see them over the line. A combination of poor play and confusing tactical switches throughout the game ensured a nervy end.

-Video: Siena 1-2 AC Milan (UK, Ireland)

However, in an enthralling conclusion to both the game and season, the Rossoneri pulled off a miracle comeback to seal their place in the Champions League and consigned their rivals to fourth place.

Controversy will undoubtedly surround the decision to award the penalty which Balotelli converted, but there was certainly a huge slice of luck involved in the winner as Mexes poked home to spark wild celebrations within the travelling contingent and the players on the pitch.

It all means Milan end the season with 21 wins, nine draws and eight defeats for 72 points, just eight shy of their total last season.

It also ends what has been a traumatic, memorable and ultimately successful season when considering the circumstances both the club and squad have found themselves over the past 10 months or so.

Much was made of the individuals who left the club last summer, and the negative effect it had on the squad was painstakingly obvious in the opening stages of the season. With little to suggest that Milan were capable of reaching the top three, it caps off a remarkable turnaround which has ensured it was not a fruitless exercise.

The club will now benefit from the financial aspects of reaching the Champions League, which will undoubtedly keep them on track in their bid to make the club more stable.

Furthermore, both the players in the squad as well as potential targets this summer will be buoyed by the prospect of competing in Europe’s elite competition. As officials within the club have always been keen to stress, the competition is part of Milan's DNA.

While Allegri's future remains up for debate despite his desire to stay, Milan have accomplished an important step in their evolution going forward.

“I have a contract, so when a season ends you talk in order to find out what we are supposed to do. The club might want to replace me, I don’t know!," Allegri told Sky Sport Italia after the game.

“I certainly can’t walk away, as I have a contract, so it is their decision. I think we have achieved our objectives in the circumstances."

Having rebuilt over the summer for a project which will continue ahead of next season, it was imperative to achieve the short-term goals in order to maintain the long-term vision.

Champions League football will be returning to San Siro next season provided Milan make it through the qualifiers. But despite the struggle it took to get there, it is job done for the Rossoneri. Forza Milan!

Looking back at the season, has it been a success in the circumstances? Has Allegri now saved his job?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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