Football: AC Milan miss out on top-four finish in Serie A despite win over SPAL

AC Milan players applaud fans after the Italian Serie A soccer match against SPAL Ferrara in Ferrara, Italy, on May 26, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MILAN (REUTERS) - Former European Cup winners AC Milan endured a bittersweet 3-2 win at SPAL in the last round of the Italian Serie A, finishing the campaign outside the top four after their nearest rivals both booked their Champions League berths on Sunday (May 26).

The result left Milan fifth on 68 points, one behind third-placed Atalanta and fourth-placed city rivals Inter, meaning they will have to be content with the Europa League next season.

Atalanta came from behind to beat Sassuolo 3-1 at home while Inter eked out a 2-1 win against relegated Empoli at the San Siro.

"I am happy with the development of my players, I think many of them have improved a lot," said AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso, whose future with the club is uncertain. "We can still get better although it will not be easy to improve this season's 68 points.

"The biggest regret is that in the last few months we have not played well and we have lost too many points, but all in all, our work has been good. There are regrets but also pride. I've congratulated the squad for what they have given me this season."

Despite his team making the Champions League, Inter coach Luciano Spalletti's own future is also uncertain, with media reports suggesting that the club want to replace him with former Juventus and Chelsea coach Antonio Conte.

His men missed a penalty, conceded an equaliser, grabbed a late winner and survived a siege on their goal before beating Empoli 2-1 while sending their luckless opponents into Serie B.

"I expected a match like this," he said. "It was always going to be a night of suffering. We needed to put our hearts into this match and we did. I'm very unhappy to see Empoli in Serie B, I have a lot of friends there. They deserved to be saved. But we never gave up until the end."

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