Depleted Milan secure vital three points

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Despite a hugely disappointing performance on Wednesday night, Milan secured a vital 2-0 win against Celtic in their Champions League opener with two late goals. With quality at a premium due to injuries, the result was of far more importance than the performance for Massimiliano Allegri.

The Rossoneri's plight could best be summed up by summer signing Valter Birsa being deployed in the trequartista role, while there was also a distinct lack of creativity in midfield coupled with a lack of threat down the flanks from the regular full-backs.

Nevertheless, despite Celtic perhaps feeling aggrieved at returning home with nothing to show for their efforts, the result will have been met with great relief in Milan as the Rossoneri got their European campaign off to a winning start, with tougher tests to come.

- Milan leave it late to beat Bhoys

Without being disrespectful to the Scottish champions, as summed up by former Milan legend Ruud Gullit after the game, had the Rossoneri played against a better team "they'd have been slaughtered."

For all their possession and goal-scoring chances, Bhoys boss Neil Lennon will acknowledge that his side have only themselves to blame for a missed opportunity.

Allegri confirmed prematch fears by selecting a trio of combative midfielders devoid of any real ability to create and dictate the tempo of the game. With captain Riccardo Montolivo sidelined, there was no invention in the middle of the pitch and Celtic dominated possession for large spells throughout.

"We do have to improve, as we gave the ball away too much and tried to force the passes through, but it was a good reaction from the side to earn victory," Allegri told reporters in his postgame interview.

While there were questionable selections, little was expected from a performance point of view considering the list of absentees. However, similarly to Saturday night in Turin, it is promising to see the desire the players demonstrated in the latter stages of the game.

The temptation to start Bryan Cristante was ignored, and with Andrea Poli and M'Baye Niang supposedly set to return for Sunday's clash with Napoli, it is unlikely that the youngster will find room in the team, which is an additional disappointment.

However, luck undoubtedly played a huge part in securing the three points, with the result vital in order for Milan to take control of their own destiny in progressing beyond the group stages.

"It was a good victory for a group of players who were whittled down to the bone, but played with substance. What counted was getting the points," Allegri said.

The Rossoneri return to European action on Oct. 1 with a trip to Amsterdam to face Ajax, and with three points secured they will be hopeful of further establishing themselves at the top of the group with Barcelona ahead of a double-header with the Spanish giants.

Granted the performance was disappointing, but Milan will be delighted with the victory and it will hopefully provide a boost in both belief and confidence ahead of the first head-to-head clash with a Serie A rival in the shape of Napoli on Sunday.

What did you make of the performance against Celtic? Did it really matter in the context?

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

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