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Milan nearly men accept their fate

While pleased with their display on the night, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Kevin-Prince Boateng recognised it was not quite enough as AC Milan were knocked out by Tottenham Hotspur FC.

Zlatan Ibrahimović (right) is challenged by Spurs midfielder Sandro
Zlatan Ibrahimović (right) is challenged by Spurs midfielder Sandro ©Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimović said "the best team doesn't always win" and team-mate Kevin-Prince Boateng recognised the defensive effort of Tottenham Hotspur FC as both players gave philosophical assessments of AC Milan's UEFA Champions League elimination.

Milan travelled to north London for their round of 16 decider 1-0 down from the first leg and with the odds stacked against them. However, Massimiliano Allegri's side enjoyed the best of the exchanges at White Hart Lane – but without managing to strike a telling blow. "I think sometimes you play well, you create a lot but sometimes it doesn't go in – today was a day like that," said Ibrahimović following the goalless draw which signalled the end of his side's involvement in this season's competition.

The Sweden forward endured a frustrating evening, although one which he felt could have ended rather differently. "We tried and I think if we scored one, we would have got more," the 29-year-old added. "We created a lot of chances but we didn't score. It was the difference between us and them – they scored [in the first leg], we didn't. It's a big disappointment of course: you represent a big club and [it's not good] to go out of the Champions League."

Milan deserved better in the eyes of Ibrahimović who said Tottenham "only needed one shot" over the two games to take them through. While Boateng's take on the balance of the contest did not entirely match that opinion, the Ghanaian international was just as matter-of-fact about the difference between the sides. "I think at San Siro they played better and today we were better," the former Spurs midfielder, 24, said. "In the end they qualified because they scored one more goal, simple as that."

The Serie A leaders had a selection of near misses as they strived to level the tie. "Sometimes their defending was very good, sometimes it was the final pass and sometimes we didn't have luck," Boateng explained. Despite the disappointing exit, Ibrahimović hailed his side's attitude, saying: "It was important to come here and play well. I think we played well as a team, the spirit was great, but we didn't score – the best team doesn't always win."

Boateng had a two-year spell at Tottenham, but how does he think his former side will fare for the remainder of the competition? "Individually, they have unbelievable quality," he said. "They are very strong and as a team they play well as well. They can go very far, maybe not all the way, but I think they play fantastic football."

While Tottenham's dream debut UEFA Champions League campaign continues, it was a case of a recurring nightmare for Milan: this was the third time in four seasons they have exited against Premier League opposition at this stage. Ibrahimović was already looking forward, though. "You need to win all the time, you have pressure on you – that's why you play for a big team. We still have the league and Coppa Italia left so we have to focus on that: continue like we've done so far because today we didn't play badly."