Alessandro Nesta was left to rue a missed opportunity after AC Milan conceded a late winner - and the initiative - to Manchester United FC in their semi-final.
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Alessandro Nesta was left to rue a missed opportunity after AC Milan conceded a late winner, and the initiative, to Manchester United FC in their UEFA Champions League semi-final.
'We stopped playing'
A red wave had threatened to engulf the Rossoneri early on at Old Trafford as United strove to add to Cristiano Ronaldo's fifth-minute opener, only for Nesta and company to stand firm and build a platform from which Kaká struck twice to give Milan a half-time lead. The visitors then "stopped playing and defended too deep", allowing Wayne Rooney to score not only a 59th-minute equaliser but also an added-time third in United's 3-2 first-leg victory.
"It's our own fault [that we lost] because we had the game in our hands, but it was inevitable in the end that we'd concede the two goals," said the 31-year-old Italy central defender. Right-back Massimo Oddo concurred: "We could have won, it's a shame. In the second half we committed two team errors and they punished us for that. A draw would have been better but we showed tonight we're at a high level."
Milan might have to step up even further if they are to avoid becoming the second successive Serie A side to fall to the English league leaders, AS Roma having been brushed aside 8-3 on aggregate. A sold-out San Siro is certain next week, less so the involvement of captain Paolo Maldini - substituted at half-time with a foot injury - and Gennaro Gattuso, who was replaced on 53 minutes, as Milan target their third final in five seasons. "I was really sorry to have to come off," said Gattuso, who will have a scan on his knee problem. "We have to score at least one goal but we'll have the support of 70,000 fans in the San Siro. I'm going to do everything I can to be out there." With that type of spirit, another thriller is in store.