Thursday February 13 2020
Maldini: 'Great Milan performance'

Paolo Maldini shrugged off questions about the referee and focused on “a great performance” from Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-final with Juventus.

Ante Rebic had opened the scoring, but Theo Hernandez saw red for a second bookable offence and Cristiano Ronaldo converted a late penalty.

The Rossoneri were furious with the referee, who booked Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Samu Castillejo and Theo Hernandez – who will be suspended for the second leg on March 4 – and awarded that spot-kick for handball, as Davide Calabria had his back to Ronaldo when his arm charged down the shot.

“There are rules that are open to interpretation, but I wouldn’t focus too much on that or the suspended players for the second leg,” director Maldini told Rai Sport.

“I want to focus on a great performance from the team and well planned by the coach, especially in the middle of the park. We certainly emerge from this game significantly more confident than we were before.

“We need to be more clinical, as we don’t score enough goals for all that we create. There are regrets at not winning the game, but when you don’t take your chances against a quality side like Juventus, anything can happen.

“We’ll be without Ibra, Theo Hernandez and Castillejo, but we will certainly get 11 players together, so that’s the important thing!”

So many of those yellow cards were entirely avoidable, but Maldini acknowledges they had the right intentions.

“When you play at this level, unfortunately, you get caught up in the importance of the game and dive into the tackle. We ask our players to be courageous, to fight hard, to battle, so we can’t complain about that attitude now.

“The loss to Inter could’ve killed us, but we proved immediately that we are back on track and performing to a high level.”