Wednesday November 21 2012
Allegri: 'Mission accomplished'

Massimiliano Allegri notes Milan “have achieved our first target of the season,” but admits he couldn’t believe Philippe Mexes had scored that goal.

The Rossoneri needed a victory in Belgium to ensure qualification for the knockouts in second place behind Malaga and got it with a 3-1 result over Anderlecht.

“Champions League games are never easy. We knew Zenit’s result, so winning tonight was very important to secure qualification,” Allegri told Mediaset.

“We have achieved our first target of the season and the lads fully deserved it. We suffered at times and got the final ball wrong at times, but only really risked on the counter-attack and on set plays.

“We should’ve done better in defence after they went down to 10 men, as they were throwing crosses in there and hoping for the best.

“We had started well, then I think we were too hasty and tried too many long balls rather than making the right decisions in attack. We knew there was space behind their four defenders, but failed to find it in the first half.”

Mexes scored an incredible over-head kick from outside the penalty area, reminiscent of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal against England in a recent friendly.

“I saw this extraordinary goal and the ball looping into the air. At the time I didn’t believe he’d scored, as it seemed impossible that would go in! He has pain in his knee and went off, so we’ll see what the tests say.

“Especially after going 2-0 up, we wasted some chances to add a third and almost ground to a halt out of fear of failing to take home the result. That can happen with a squad that is so young and lacking in European experience.”

Stephan El Shaarawy scored again and set up Alexandre Pato for the third.

“His maturity is important and he is more balanced now than he was last season. He is generous and hard-working. He does better on the wing, so we had to adapt the squad a little, using a 4-3-3 with Boateng given the option to come back into the centre a little more. Stephan struggles as part of a classic two-man attack.”