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Ancelotti praises Milan's defence

Simon Evans | March 09, 2005 10:39 IST

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti praised his side's "perfect defence" after a 1-0 win over Manchester United at the San Siro on Tuesday took them into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-0 aggregate victory.

Just as in the first leg Milan's success came via a second-half Hernan Crespo goal and just like at Old Trafford the Italian back-line gave a demonstration of superb marking and covering.

"Our defensive work was perfect," said Ancelotti, "Apart from when (Ryan) Giggs hit the post we didn't risk anything at all at the back. It was really a great performance.

"We handled two very difficult games very well and there was very little between the two teams," he said.

"You expect that, though, when you have a game between two of the best teams in Europe. What really pleases me is that in both games we were able to play the way we wanted to. That shows we know our strengths and can play to them," he said.

But the Milan coach admitted that United could have made his team pay on the few occasions when they broke through a defence marshalled superbly by Alessandro Nesta.


"United attacked us and left themselves quite open. They were strong, aggressive, though their finishing could have been better. They could definitely have done more with the chances they had.

"The way they played put a big strain on our midfield, but I think we deserved the win. We did it in the first leg and now we've done it in the second."

United manager Ferguson believes Milan can now go on to win what would be their seventh European Cup and was particularly impressed with the attitude of the Italian side.

"They have something special," said the Scotsman, "We play a lot of European teams at their own grounds and you have to put up with a lot of histrionics with players playing for fouls and for free kicks. But Milan were perfectly professional."

"With that professionalism and fair play they can win it," he added.

While Ancelotti preferred to credit the victory to "the whole team and all its component parts," his opposite number made no secret of his admiration for the tireless and speedy running of their Brazilian full back Cafu and the class of 36-year-old skipper Paolo Maldini.

"If Maldini plays for another five years then I'm quitting," joked Ferguson. "With Cafu you never know, I think he has two hearts".

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