AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is confident his side can pip Napoli to second spot in Serie A, despite the two sides’ draw on Sunday.
Milan took the lead on the half hour through Mathieu Flamini only to see Goran Pandev draw the visitors level just three minutes later at the San Siro.
Flamini was later sent off and Allegri felt a draw was a decent result for Milan – who remain four points in arrears of Walter Mazzarri’s men and four ahead of fourth-placed Fiorentina.
“Milan played a good game,” Allegri told Sky Sport Italia. “We have only made one error, for Pandev’s goal.
“We have not missed the last train (for second place). We are in the race and we have also kept the gap to Fiorentina at two wins.
“There are still several games to go until the end of the season and our objective remains qualifying for the Champions League through second or third place.
“To get third would be good anyway: at this point during the first round we were 10 points off Fiorentina.”
Allegri also resisted the temptation to berate Flamini for the two-footed lunge which resulted in the Frenchman’s dismissal with 17 minutes to go, even though it means Milan will be without a key player for next weekend’s visit to Turin to take on leaders Juventus.
“I cannot blame anyone on anything,” the former Cagliari boss stated. “And I am confident for the Juve game.”
With star striker Mario Balotelli suspended for the visit of second-placed Napoli, the Milan boss made the surprising decision to leave top scorer Stephan El Shaarawy on the bench and despite failing to win, he still believed it was the right call.
“He is the revelation of the championship but he is only 20 and he needs to be managed,” he explained.
“He must recharge his batteries, both mentally and physically. Besides, Robinho had a good game.”
As for Balotelli, Allegri is unsure if Milan will manage to successfully revoke the two remaining games of his three-match ban.
“We know that he is an important element for us, but I don’t know if we will have him against Juve,” he confessed.
“Anyway, there is (Giampaolo) Pazzini, who is doing very well.”
Napoli manager Mazzarri said he felt all three points were there for the taking for his men.
“I am satisfied with my team’s performance, but there is regret at not having won,” Mazzarri told Mediaset Premium.
“We could have taken home all three points if we had been a bit more clinical.
“However, our evening has been a positive one. I alway look for a performance and that was there tonight.
“We started with the handbrake still on, as so often happens, but we deserved more from the game after it went 1-0.”
Marek Hamsik, who created Pandev’s equaliser, was surprisingly withdrawn midway through the second half but Mazzarri saidhe felt he had no other option but to sub him.
“Marek was having cramps, so I didn’t want to risk an injury,” he revealed.
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