Houllier's pride hides pain of Lyon's fall

April 4, 2006

MILAN, April 4 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon coach Gerard Houllier was left rueing his side's lack of concentration in the final minutes after two late goals gave AC Milan a 3-1 win in their Champions League quarter-final, second-leg tie on Tuesday.

At 1-1 in the 88th minute Lyon were set to head into the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in their history on the `away goals' rule but their dream was dashed by strikes from Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko.

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'It is extremely disappointing, we performed so well and were probably better than Milan,' Houllier told a news conference.

'I am really proud of the players but just disappointed they didn't fight to the end and that they missed several chances,' he said.

'We played very well in the first half but we weren't as good after the break. But Milan's goals came on the counter-attack -- they had three chances and scored three goals,' added the former Liverpool manager.

Houllier said Lyon's run to the last eight and their performances against Milan showed the team had made steps forward.

'We have made a lot of progress and matured. We proved we can compete with top clubs like Milan,' he said.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti compared his side's win to their last-gasp victory over Ajax in the 2003 quarter-finals -- when once again Inzaghi saved the day.

'It was very similar to the Ajax game, very emotional at the end. We are lucky to enjoy such positive emotions,' he said.

'Inzaghi has the experience for games like this -- he is always ready from the first until the last minute,' added Ancelotti.

'This was a tight tie decided right at the end and maybe our home advantage here helped us a little. But we have the kind of quality in our attack that can pull something out for us even when things aren't going so well.'

'In this competition, especially in this phase of it, it is very important to have quality footballers but also to have the experience and character.'

Inzaghi was ecstatic after his double strike.

'It was a magical night, stratospheric and we will enjoy these semi-finals,' Inzaghi told reporters.

'But we should also honour Lyon who produced a great match and who are a great team.'