Massimiliano Allegri insists Milan’s defensive first half was a “tactical” decision against Ajax. “It was overall a good performance.”
The Rossoneri had only 30 per cent possession in the first half and not a single shot on goal, but emerged with a 1-1 draw. Elsewhere in Champions League Group H, Barcelona squeezed past 10-man Celtic 1-0.
“We knew the difficulties would be in the first half, as the same happened in Eindhoven with PSV,” Allegri told Sky Sport Italia.
“There was no point pushing early and risking to get caught up in their passing, so we played very well in a defensive fashion and risked very little.
“In the second half it was normal their tempo would drop and from that point on we could win the game. We lost a few balls at the end and conceded from a corner.
“It’s a good point for qualification and overall I think we played well. In the first half it was tactically a good performance, while after the break we took it to Ajax.
“I think it’s difficult to play 90 minutes with great intensity and constant pressing, especially when we’ve had a packed fixture list with few players available.
“We did make mistakes to give Ajax too much space in the first half, as we kept giving the ball away. The team wasn’t spectacular, but it played the way I asked in the first half.
“The second was in our hands and we didn’t have enough quality in the final pass, but overall it was a good performance. A game lasts 95 minutes generally and you have to be in front at the end.”
Mario Balotelli is available for Europe, as his three-match ban for insulting the referee applies only to Serie A. He converted the last-gasp penalty to grab a point.
“He played well tonight and had a few promising opportunities, including one that hit the bar. It’s only normal he hadn’t played in a while and will be out again on Sunday, so when he’s available we want to make the most of him.”
Ajax had taken the lead at the 90th with a header from a corner, the sixth header Milan have conceded this season.
“When there are corners we don’t mark properly and therefore concede. We often lose our marking and it’s down to distraction. I was afraid after such a good second half we’d concede at the end and in fact we did.”
The Coach had to change his approach when Valter Birsa pulled out in the warm-up.
“Tonight’s approach with a trequartista behind two strikers could be an idea. Until last Sunday we played with two trequartisti, the so-called Christmas Tree formation. Tonight we were solid defensively for 90 minutes, just like against Sampdoria, and that’s what we have to build on. The better you defend, the better you can attack.
“We were going to play Birsa this evening, but he had an injury and I put Montolivo behind the strikers, though Robinho is someone who moves around a lot.”