Allegri warns of defensive lapses ahead of Celtic

15 September 2013 11:16

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri has called for major improvements after seeing yet another under-par defensive display from his side four days before their Champions League opener against Celtic.

Seven-time European champions Milan welcome Celtic to the San Siro for their first Group A match of the campaign on Wednesday.

But three weeks after an opening day defeat to new boys Verona, Milan had to rely on two late goals from Sulley Muntari and Mario Balotelli, from the spot, to secure a precious 2-2 draw away to Torino on Saturday.

The match marked Kaka's league debut after the Brazilian's return to Milan following his free transfer from Real Madrid two weeks ago.

But despite showing glimpses of his potential, the former Ballon d'Or winner's lack of match fitness became apparent when he came off after 70 minutes.

Having conceded goals in the 47th and 71st minutes to Danilo D'Ambrosio and Alessio Cerci respectively, Milan proved vulnerable on the counter-attack.

Allegri admitted: "Five minutes from the end we'd lost the match.

"We didn't play well. Torino were strong, especially on the counter-attack, and showed their speed and technical ability when going forward."

In the end Milan launched a most unlikely comeback in the 87th minute when Sulley Muntari's low shot sneaked into the Torino goal as confusion reigned in the home end.

Balotelli then stepped up to score from the penalty spot in the seventh minute of added-on injury time to grab a share of the spoils.

However it was a ragged performance all-round from Milan, and one Allegri says cannot be repeated on Wednesday when the Rossoneri will be missing four influential players including captain Riccardo Montolivo.

"At the moment, our defensive play is just not where it should be - and I'm talking about as a team," added Allegri, who dragged Milan to a third-place finish last season after a disastrous start to the campaign.

"We need to work harder as a team. (Conceding) five goals in three games is just not good enough. We can't afford to slip up against Celtic on Wednesday. Tonight we lost Montolivo, that's four players we have missing."

Milan are already without forward Stephan El-Shaarawy, and defenders Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio, all of whom have picked up injuries in recent weeks.

When Kaka was in possession he looked dangerous, but Allegri admitted the Brazilian is still not fully match fit.

"He hasn't played a proper match for a while but in terms of commitment and intensity he put in a good performance."

Celtic come to the San Siro with hopes of qualifying for the last 16 for the second successive season.

However Neil Lennon's men will also have to contend with Barcelona, whom they beat last year, as well as Dutch side Ajax.

Source: AFP