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Zenit and Milan reflect on 'game of Abbiati's life'

Published: Wednesday 3 October 2012, 22.30CET
Stand-in AC Milan captain Christian Abbiati hid from the spotlight that followed his first ever man of the match performance at 35, but with so much praise he could not avoid it for long.
by Richard van Poortvliet
from Stadion Petrovski
Published: Wednesday 3 October 2012, 22.30CET

Zenit and Milan reflect on 'game of Abbiati's life'

Stand-in AC Milan captain Christian Abbiati hid from the spotlight that followed his first ever man of the match performance at 35, but with so much praise he could not avoid it for long.

AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati may have shied away from the spotlight that followed his first ever man of the match performance, but there were plenty in the ranks of the Rossoneri and FC Zenit St Petersburg only too happy to turn it back on the 35-year-old. Opponents Vyacheslav Malafeev and Axel Witsel were awestruck, while team-mate Urby Emanuelson wondered what his stand-in captain had for dinner.

It's really nice to be named the man of the match – it's the first time in my career and I am 35
Christian Abbiati
Christian Abbiati was amazing – I don't know what he has been eating! He was our captain today, and the way he played – all I can do is applaud him
Urby Emanuelson
We have to continue to work hard. We don't have much luck at the moment. Today was the game of Abbiati's life
Axel Witsel

Christian Abbiati, Milan goalkeeper
It's really nice to be named the man of the match – it's the first time in my career and I am 35. However, I have to highlight Stephan El Shaarawy as he's such an excellent player, a winner with a great future ahead of him. If I have to talk about my saves, then I would say the most important one was when I denied Hulk at the end of the first half from a free-kick. However, today's victory was the result of a great team performance.

I think a key thing was in the second half when we changed formation. Our coach decided to strengthen the midfield and we started to play with three central midfielders. This meant we became more solid and it was more difficult for Zenit to create opportunities; it had a massive impact on the game.

Urby Emanuelson, Milan midfielder
Today was really important as we drew our first game with Anderlecht: we couldn't afford to lose here. We are really happy with the victory. We worked as a team and it was a great result. We started well but after we had gone 2-0 up, Zenit got stronger and stronger. Their scoring right at the end of the first half was bad for us, but it was good we won in the end.

Christian Abbiati was amazing – I don't know what he has been eating! He was our captain today, and the way he played – all I can do is applaud him. We fought as a team and it was difficult after they made it 2-2, but we stayed together and helped each other. We managed to score late on and after that we didn't give any big chances away and it was a great victory for us.

Vyacheslav Malafeev, Zenit goalkeeper
After a game like that it's difficult to single out one specific moment – there were so many throughout the match as well as some amazing saves by Christian Abbiati. We create a huge number of chances but unfortunately we just weren't able to take them; on the other hand, Milan took theirs.

All is not lost and we need to look ahead. We have made our situation as difficult as possible, but we will keep on fighting. We have two very important matches with Anderlecht coming up and these games will decide our fate. If we manage to get six points then all the teams will be in a similar situation.

Axel Witsel, Zenit midfielder
It was not easy but I think we played well today – we were just a bit unlucky. Their goalkeeper Christian Abbiati produced so many great saves and it was difficult for us to score. Now we have to work hard for the next game and we have to win it. The first 15 minutes were not very good and Milan managed to score twice. We have to continue to work hard. We don't have much luck at the moment. Today was the game of Abbiati's life.

Last updated: 25/09/14 4.29CET

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