AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has questioned the performance of the match officials after seeing two penalties called against his side in their 3-1 Champions League quarter-final second-leg loss to Barcelona at Camp Nou.
Referee Bjorn Kuipers awarded Barca two spot-kicks in the first half after infractions by Luca Antonini and Alessandro Nesta, both of which were converted by Lionel Messi.
However, Allegri maintains that the second penalty, given after Nesta’s apparent tug on the shirt of Sergio Busquets, was unwarranted and a tough blow to his side.
“I don't know if the referees were decisive or not. In the first half we made a mistake with the first penalty and then the referee lent his help [to Barcelona] with the second one,” lamented Allegri to reporters after the match.
“Unfortunately, we are out. I would have preferred it to be different, and not with two penalties, which seem as if they were awarded very easily. Playing against Barcelona is never easy.”
The Milan boss nevertheless conceded that the Catalan outfit were deserved winners in the end, and signalled his intention to make a strong finish to the Serie A campaign, with his side holding a two-point lead over Juventus with eight games remaining.
“The result is fair because they won. We have been knocked out even though we did somewhat better than last year,” Allegri reflected.
“We reached our minimum objective, but we are left with no bad taste. Now we will concentrate on the league championship.”
Midfielder Massimo Ambrosini also chimed in on the controversial penalty incident, claiming that it took “courage” for the match officials to make the call in such a pressure-packed situation.
“We had not started well, but were able to recover. Then there was the episode of the second penalty to Barcelona. To affect so much in the quarter-finals of the Champions League takes courage, and they will always be held accountable in that area,” observed Ambrosini.
The Milan captain also expressed his pride in his team’s performance in the second leg, and was left with no regrets at their failure to qualify for the semi-finals.
“In the second half we were tired. But we coped with Barcelona, the strongest team in the competition,” said Ambrosini.
“We played, and leave with no regrets. Now we must re-focus on the [Serie A] championship.”