AC Milan deserved their Europa League exit at the hands of Olympiacos, according to coach Gennaro Gattuso.
Milan needed just a point to secure their progression from Group F, but crashed out thanks to a 3-1 defeat in Piraeus, with Konstantinos Fortounis’ late penalty booking Olympiacos’ passage through to the knockout stage.
Cristian Zapata – whose own goal had put Milan 2-0 down following Pape Abou Cisse’s opener – had made it advantage Milan courtesy of the Rossoneri’s improved head-to-head record.
But Ignazio Abate’s clumsy foul on Vasilis Torosidis handed Fortounis the chance to seal the win, and although Gattuso acknowledged the penalty was soft, he made no excuses, blaming Milan’s profligacy in front of goal.
“We gifted the game,” Gattuso told Sky Sport Italia.
“I am furious because we could’ve been stronger even than all the incidents and emerged with qualification.
“We had the game in hand, but when creating eight scoring opportunities in a stadium like this and then falling apart the moment things go wrong, you deserve to go out.
“We’ve shown we are still not good enough to get the game on track when we have the chance.
“It’s true, there were some debatable refereeing decisions, but if you create eight chances in this atmosphere and then after the first sign of difficulty you start making stupid mistakes, it’s only right we go home, because we don’t deserve to go further.”
2001 – AC Milan have been eliminated in a group stage of an European competition for the first time since 2000-01 (2nd group stage in Champions League). Incredible. #OlympiakosMilan
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 13, 2018
Milan could have been behind inside the first 10 seconds had Miguel Angel Guerrero made better contact with a first-time effort, but missed a glut of chances before the interval.
Cisse’s header handed Olympiacos the initiative, although both Patrick Cutrone and Gonzalo Higuain wasted great opportunities before Zapata’s own goal set up a grandstand finish.
And Gattuso cited a lack of big-game experience as another reason for Milan’s failure.
“We mustn’t allow the opponents into the game and I think at the moment that lack of experience is the main problem for us,” he added.
“We’ve got to get out there with determination, with fire.
“We gifted the game, there are no excuses and we have to take the responsibility.
“It’s a difficult atmosphere, but that mustn’t be an excuse. We often look like we do things without much belief, as if we don’t want to hurt the opposition.”
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