AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli has praised his side’s Champions League journey that ended in a comprehensive semi-final defeat to rivals Inter Milan last night.
Milan suffered a 1-0 loss to Simone Inzaghi’s side in Tuesday’s tie decider, which saw them bow out of Europe’s premier club competition following a 3-0 aggregate defeat.
The Rossoneri hoped to overturn last week’s underwhelming 2-0 first-leg scoreline, but Lautaro Martinez scored late in the game to put the tie well beyond their reach.
Pioli has expressed disappointment at crashing out of the Champions League in the semi-final but has rallied his side to focus on their remaining Serie A fixtures with a place in the top four still up for grabs.
“Now there is only disappointment, but there is pride in the journey we’ve made, even if we dreamed of this final,” Pioli said in his post-match press conference (via Calciomercato).
“But now we have to think immediately about the championship and the next match – the real disappointment would be not playing in the Champions League next year.
“The club’s policy on the transfer market has worked so far. This year, playing on two fronts, we’ve done less well in the league. We will certainly make some assessments at the end of the season.”
Star forward Rafael Leao missed the first leg clash through an injury but made his return in the reverse fixture and was one of the bright sparks in the Milan attack.
The Portugal international, who recently ended speculation about his long-term future by signing a new contract with the Rossoneri, was a handful for the Inter defence and came close to scoring several times.
When asked if Leao’s absence in the first leg played a part in Milan’s downfall, Pioli said: “Even Rafael [Leao] can be a regret – not having had him at his best at this point in the Champions League.
“Leao wasn’t there [in the first leg], while [in the second leg] he wasn’t at his best.”
Milan are four points adrift of the top four in the Serie A table with three games remaining – the first of which is a home match against relegation-bound Sampdoria.
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