AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi said he felt a combination of personal joy and collective relief after striking twice to earn his side a 2-1 victory at Marseille in their UEFA Champions League Group C opener.
The Rossoneri travelled to France having followed up their disastrous 4-0 derby loss to FC Internazionale Milano with Saturday’s goalless draw at AS Livorno Calcio, but once again they rose to the occasion in Europe and have now won on each of their last eight Matchday 1 fixtures.
Enjoying his first start of the season in place of summer signing Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Inzaghi was integral to the triumph, burying Clarence Seedorf’s cross from point-blank range with 28 minutes gone and beating Taye Taiwo to another Seedorf centre 16 minutes from time, either side of a Gabriel Heinze header for the hosts.
“I’m very happy about my goals but above all I’m happy about the win because this is a difficult time for Milan,” said Inzaghi, whose second effort put him out in front as the all-time leading goalscorer in UEFA club competitions on 68 strikes – one better than Raúl González, the Real Madrid CF striker who hit the target against FC Zürich in the same section. “We’re happy for ourselves and we’re very happy for the coach [Leonardo] because we’ve faced a lot of obstacles. We can be very proud because we won at a very difficult ground to come to.”
Another player central to Milan’s success was Seedorf, used at the tip of a midfield diamond in place of an out-of-sorts Ronaldinho. The 33-year-old engineered both his team’s goals with impressive skill, but he shied from suggestions he had proven a point for his coach.
“I’m happy with my performance but we have a lot of important players in this team,” he explained. “Nobody’s in the side in place of somebody else. We’re all part of the same group: sometimes one of us plays and other times it’s someone else. We made a very good start and we can be happy with the three points. We knew it would be difficult beforehand and that just makes the feeling better.”
For the hosts, goalkeeper Steve Mandanda was left regretting another defeat in the competition, his side having become used to disappointment on European nights after failing to progress from the group stage in the last two seasons.
“Each year looks the same for us,” he said. “We’re competitive, we play a good game and we lose out in the end. This evening was another shame. They scored, we equalised and they scored again. We started the second half well and showed some good stuff but got caught out by a quickly taken free-kick. It shows that we’ve still got a lot to learn.”