Champions League news

AC Milan's spirit hailed

September 18, 2013
By ESPN staff

AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri has praised the fighting spirit of his team following their 2-0 Champions League triumph over Celtic.

• Paul: Depleted Milan secure points

Allegri’s men picked up maximum points courtesy of late goals from Cristian Zapata and Sulley Muntari at the San Siro on Wednesday, and the coach was delighted with the 90-minute effort.

"It was important to win and we struggled at the start of the second half, as we couldn’t get it clear. We were fortunate with the goal," Allegri told Sky Sport.

"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.

"I am not angry at always getting the goals in the final stages, as if all games went like this I’d be happy! The truth is towards the end the spaces open up more and we can create more chances.

"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.

"The lads have heart and desire, as they know a game is always open until the final whistle, as we saw against Torino. What we do need to improve is how we read the game, knowing when to take up the tempo or slow it down. We started playing Celtic’s game with long balls, which is what we should not be doing.

"We must always try to think positive. I have faith in the last 15-20 minutes of a game, as I know anything can happen there. The substitutions helped, as they did on Saturday."

His Celtic counterpart Neil Lennon admitted defeat was hard to take.

"We dominated the game for long periods,'' he said. "I have just said to the players that when you are on top, you have to take your chances. Anything can happen - a ricochet, a deflection - and that's what happened.

"They didn't deserve that but sometimes you don't get what you deserve in football. I thought we were brilliant. We started off a bit nervous but took the game to them. Certainly in the second half I couldn't see Milan scoring.

"Barcelona is a different game, a different animal. I felt confident with the team coming in tonight. We did well but not well enough for my liking. It sounds funny, you come to the San Siro and come away disappointed that you have been beaten.''

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