AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was delighted with the efforts of his players after they qualified for the Champions League knockout stages.
A 3-1 win over Anderlecht in Belgium on Wednesday guaranteed Milan second place in Group C behind Malaga, with their final match to come at home against Zenit St Petersburg.
The highlight of the match was a brilliant overhead kick from Frenchman Philippe Mexes for Milan’s second goal, and Allegri said he was stunned by the strike.
“Philippe Mexes scored a great goal,” Allegri said. “I was expecting to see the ball sail wide and was surprised when I saw it in the back of the net.
“It was a great goal but also a great performance by Mexes.”
Stephan El Shaarawy and Alexandre Pato also got on the scoresheet in Belgium, and Allegri, whose side have made a disastrous start to the Serie A campaign, paid tribute to his whole team.
“We were good this time, even if we suffered a bit in the last 15 minutes and Anderlecht even had a good chance to score the equaliser at some point before Pato’s goal,” Allegri said.
“Most of all I’m happy for the club, for the president and Adriano Galliani and for the guys, because tonight they achieved the first aim of this season and with another game to play.
“It was important for us not to play for the qualification in the last match and against an excellent team such Zenit, in a moment in which things aren’t surely going that well in Serie A.”
Anderlecht coach John van den Brom lamented a red card to Bram Nuytinck for a foul on Pato, but said his team, who are level with Zenit on four points in the race for a Europa League berth, could be proud of their efforts.
“We deserved more than to suffer defeat by AC Milan, but that doesn’t help us one bit,” he said.
“I’m really disappointed by this missed opportunity. We played excellently in the first half and went into half-time with a good feeling, but then, immediately after the break, we conceded a goal due to a big man-marking mistake and we ended up with nothing.
“Still, I’m very proud of the resilience that we showed despite the red card and being 2-0 behind.
“We have shown that we deserve our place in the Champions League and that we can compete at this level.”