AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri deflected the blame away from his players and on to referee Paolo Valeri after his side slumped to a 1-0 defeat against 10-man Inter Milan.
Veteran centre-back Walter Samuel won the game for the Nerazzurri with a headed goal in the third minute, but that was far from the end of the drama on Sunday night.
Riccardo Montolivo was denied the chance level due to a controversial call from the official, but Milan only had themselves to blame for failing to capitalise when Yuto Nagatomo’s dismissal early in the second half for a second booking put Inter on the back foot.
“The ref made some mistakes and I’m not saying that because we lost,” Allegri said.
“A good ref like him should know how to take these decisions with the game running. I’m sorry for the players as we did well. The team conceded nothing apart from the goal.”
Allegri felt his team were denied a decent penalty shout at the San Siro, but it was Montolivo’s disallowed goal that was the main bone of contention post match.
Urby Emanuelson collided only softly with Inter’s goalkeeper in the area while challenging for a lob forward, leaving Montolivo to toe-poke the loose ball into the back of the net, but Valeri had already blown his whistle for what he considered an infringement by the Dutchman.
“Emanuelson did not foul in the lead-up,” Allegri said. “We could also have had a penalty and Juan Jesus could even have been sent off in the first half.
“The ref had a bad night and that can happen to anyone.”
Montolivo was also unimpressed with the decision.
“I think it’s been the best game of the season, we deserved to win,” he said.
“There was only one team on the pitch, especially after Nagatomo got sent off.
“It’s a shame about the disallowed goal. On the pitch, the impression I had was that it should have stood.
“It’s disappointing because it was a great goal, from far out and a tough shot to make. It’s tough because we deserved it.”
The defeat was Milan’s fourth in seven games at the start of the new season to leave the Rossoneri languishing in the bottom half of the table.
Allegri is coming under increasing scrutiny in the wake of the club’s poor start to the season, but has ruled out wholesale changes in his approach. However, he concedes his team’s weakness at defending set-pieces is something that needs to be addressed.
“The team played well and we can’t always change the way we play otherwise it creates confusion,” he said.
“We’ve conceded seven goals from dead balls. Something has to change.
“We’re far from the top spots, but the race is long and this team will rise again.”