Sinisa Mihajlovic accepted that AC Milan were “lucky” to escape with a 0-0 draw at home to Atalanta on Saturday.
The Rossoneri had won their previous three league matches and came close to scoring through Luiz Adriano and the returning M’Baye Niang, but 16-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had to make a string of saves in the second half to keep Edy Reja’s men at bay.
Mihajlovic believes Milan suffered due to the absence of some key personnel but insisted earning a top-three finish remains well within their capabilities.
“This is a Milan [team] with the quality to reach our target, which is the top three. But it seems a bit premature to talk about objectives after only 12 rounds,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“We were certainly lucky to get a point, as we were not the same side that beat Lazio. I don’t want to look for excuses, but we were missing Giacomo Bonaventura, Andrea Bertolacci and Alex, who have been some of our best players until now.
“When you don’t win, it’s important not to lose. Now the international break will help us to recover some injured players and recuperate the energy we’ve used up during this period.
“We know that we’re working very hard and have a lot more to do. Atalanta played really well and deserved more than a point, that is true, while for the first time we were helped by good luck.”
Mihajlovic praised Donnarumma’s performance at San Siro, adding: “He had to make more saves than he has done before and he proved he’s a really good goalkeeper with a bright future.”
Niang made his first appearance of the season on Saturday and looked lively during an open first half, and Mihajlovic believes he has benefitted from a loan spell with Genoa at the end of last term.
“Niang has certainly improved a lot since he went to Genoa. He’s physically strong, technically gifted and offers an extra option for us,” he said.
The Milan coach was sent from the dugout in the closing stages after kicking a water bottle in the direction of the fourth official, but the former defender insisted he was not aiming for anyone.
“I was wrong to kick the bottle, but I was angry with my own players, not the referee,” he added. “If I’d wanted to hit him with it, I’d have got it on target.”