Allegri relieved to reach knockout stage
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was a relieved man yesterday after his struggling Serie A side qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League with a game to spare following Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory at Anderlecht.
The Rossoneri cannot be caught by either Anderlecht or Zenit St Petersburg, and will go through as runners-up behind Group C winners Malaga.
Stephan El Shaarawy and a stunning Philippe Mexes goal put the Serie A side in control at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, and although the hosts were reduced to 10 men after Bram Nuytinck saw red, Tom de Sutter’s strike 12 minutes before time brought the Belgian side back into the contest.
Pato netted in added time to seal the win and Milan’s progression, however Allegri knows his team were far from perfect.
“We did well even if at the end we suffered a bit, something that shouldn’t happen,” he told reporters.
“This is a step that the team has to take, improving in possession of the ball.
“I’m happy for the team and the club which has achieved the first target of the season with a game in hand. It was important not to get to the last match with it all to play for against Zenit.
“We need more experience which we’ll get as we’re young.”
And Allegri praised two of his goalscorers and was surprised to see Mexes’s effort end up in the back of the net.
“When Philippe Mexes took that shot, I thought it went wide but he scored,” Allegri said.
“He was criticised harshly after Fiorentina and in the last two games he has played very well.
“Pato took a knock but it shouldn’t be anything serious.
“This was a good game for him to come off the bench and he showed that. In the changing rooms, I simply said that maybe I hadn’t explained myself.”