Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Mario Balotelli scored twice in AC Milan's last Serie A match. Vincenzo Pinto / AFP
Mario Balotelli scored twice in AC Milan's last Serie A match. Vincenzo Pinto / AFP

‘Above all, score goals’ says Allegri as Milan look to claim Champions League last 16 place

With a returned-to-form Mario Balotelli in tow, Max Allegri is confident AC Milan can top Ajax on Wednesday and gain entry into the knockout round.

AC Milan need only a point against Ajax on Wednesday to secure entry to the last 16 of the Champions League, but embattled coach Massimiliano Allegri is taking nothing for granted.

For the second consecutive season Milan’s run-in to Christmas is anything but festive: they currently sit ninth in Serie A, 22 points behind leaders Juventus and 14 adrift of the first Champions League qualifying spot.

With Ajax conceding only three defeats on their way to second place in the Dutch top flight, Allegri says it would be a mistake to underestimate Frank De Boer’s side, who, with a win, would qualify.

“Ajax have shown some great form of late and they have great technique throughout the team. We have to have the right attitude against them and, above all, score goals,” said the Italian.

Milan’s 3-0 rout of Celtic in Scotland a fortnight ago, when Ajax stunned Barcelona 2-1 in Amsterdam to stay in contention, kept the Italian giants in second place in Group H with a one-point lead on the Dutchmen.

It means the seven-time European champions need just a point at the San Siro to join leaders Barcelona in the knockout phase.

But despite Ajax’s mediocre away form in the competition - they have not won any of their last six away fixtures - Milan are not entertaining playing for a draw, and hope to draw on the current form of striker Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli last week ended a two-month goal drought in Serie A when he scored Milan’s second in a 3-1 win away to basement side Catania.

On Saturday the 23 year old scored twice, including a stunning free kick from distance seven minutes from time, in a 2-2 draw away to Livorno and could have had a hat-trick only for a looping drive smack off the crossbar at the death.

While pundits in Italy suggest his purple patch is down to Allegri’s demand for more “consistency” and “intensity”, Balotelli was dismissive.

“The goals had dried up, that was all. Tonight I scored two, I could have had three,” said Balotelli, who saved Milan’s blushes in Amsterdam with an injury-time penalty which secured a precious 1-1 draw.

Instead, Balotelli sent out a message ahead of Wednesday’s decider when he underlined the defensive lapses that have seen Milan’s drop precious points throughout the season.

“The team is playing quite well, we’re finding the goals that just weren’t coming before,” said Balotelli.

“But we need to pay more attention when other teams are on the counter-attack. Every time they shoot, they score.”

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National