AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli claims his players deserved more from their Europa League last 16 ties against Manchester United because they were the superior team over the two legs.
Milan was up against it in terms of pick, with no center-forward fit enough to start. Castillejo was given the nod as a ‘false nine’ model frontman since Leao and Rebic are both injured, and Ibrahimovic has just returned from a prolonged layoff.
As in the first leg, there was nothing to distinguish the two teams on the night, though Milan did not react to United’s goal early in the second half. The tie was won by replacement Paul Pogba, who took advantage of the Rossoneri’s failure to score.
The tie will be broken by replacement Paul Pogba, who took advantage of the Rossoneri’s failure to clear their lines and scored within three minutes of coming on.
After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side advanced 2-1 on aggregate, as Milan missed out on their first Europa League/UEFA Cup quarter-final since 2002.
After the contest, Pioli was interviewed by Sky Italia and voiced remorse over how the tie started, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
On the defeat: “It’s an elimination that we lament, but in the two games we played like a fine team. We would have followed a better direction if we had scored in the first half. Unfortunately, we put in a lot of effort to get here, and I believe the team deserved better, but we didn’t succeed.”
On United: “They are a really good team; they reached the semi-finals last year and defeated City. The two goals they scored were more of our flaws than their abilities, and we needed to score a goal tonight to make up for what we did. I can’t blame the players; I’m sad we’re out; we need to rebound fast because we’re diving into the championship and want to do better right away.”