x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Third or bust for Milan

AC Milan gave their manager Carlo Ancelotti an ultimatum yesterday - steer the club to at least third place this season or your job is on the line.

Filippo Inzaghi shows his dismay during Milan's 2-1 loss at Sampdoria on Sunday.
Filippo Inzaghi shows his dismay during Milan's 2-1 loss at Sampdoria on Sunday.

AC Milan gave their manager Carlo Ancelotti an ultimatum yesterday - steer the club to at least third place this season or your job is on the line. "Carlo Ancelotti will stay if we come third," the chief executive Adriano Galliani was quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport's website. Out-of-form Milan are clinging to third place in Serie A, which would send them directly into next season's Champions League. A 2-1 defeat at Sampdoria on Sunday left them trailing leaders Inter Milan by 12 points and just two ahead of fourth-placed Fiorentina.

Ancelotti had already called an end to Milan's title hopes, saying a top-three finish was their main target after they were knocked out of the Uefa Cup by Werder Bremen last Thursday. The seven-times European champions were in the Uefa Cup after failing to qualify for the Champions League with a fifth-placed finish in Serie A last year. Ancelotti, Serie A's longest serving coach having been appointed in 2001, led Milan to European Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007 but has captured only one league title, in 2004.

The Inter Milan goalkeeper Francesco Toldo has signed a two-year contract extension ahead of his team's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg against Sampdoria tonight. Toldo, 37, whose previous deal ended this summer, will remain with Inter until June 2011. "It's a matter of great pride to know that at 37 it is a record for an Inter goalkeeper to renew his contract for a further two years," said Toldo, the club's second-choice stopper behind Julio Cesar, on the club's official website.

In Spain, an under-pressure Barcelona team face rapidly improving Mallorca in tonight's Copa del Rey semi-final second leg as they attempt to break their run of four matches without a win in all competitions. The Primera Liga leaders have a 2-0 advantage from last month's first leg at the Camp Nou but in contrast to Barcelona's recent poor showing, Mallorca have won their last three league matches and moved out of the relegation places into 16th. The Barca defender Silvinho said the poor results, including Sunday's 4-3 loss at Atletico Madrid when the Catalans twice surrendered the lead, would not affect their performance.

"This is a different competition and we won't be suffering from any damage to our spirits because of what happened on Sunday," the Brazilian said on Barca's website. In the other semi-final, Sevilla who lead 2-1 from the first leg, visit Athletic Bilbao's San Mames where they won 2-1 in the league on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos has warned that their pursuit of Primera Liga leaders Barca "has only just begun". His team, who are on a 10-match winning streak, have eaten away at Barca's 12-point lead in recent weeks.

"We've reduced the gap to four points and it seems like it's job done, but in reality it has only just begun," Ramos told the Spanish newspaper AS. "Whoever thinks the chase is over is wrong. This will be a long road. Our pursuit of Barcelona is not over. There are a lot of games remaining and one day we could suffer a setback." * With agencies