Football: Pioli rues missed chances as Atletico snatch late win

AC Milan lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in their Champions League group match. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MILAN (REUTERS, AFP) - Back in the Champions League this season, AC Milan's hopes of reaching the knockout stage are slim after a 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid left them without a point in Group B, but it was a case of what might have been for the Serie A side on Tuesday.

Roared on by an enthusiastic San Siro crowd, witnessing their first Champions League home game since 2014, seven-time European champions Milan were well on top in the opening half and deservedly led 1-0 through Rafael Leao after 20 minutes.

Even after Franck Kessie's red card nine minutes later, the Italians dug in admirably and looked to have frustrated their opponents, who for all their pressure, created few clear-cut chances.

However, Milan hearts were broken by Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez in the final stages as the duo's goals earned the La Liga champions a priceless victory in a match that could so easily have gone the other way.

"We played a great game, for sure. We created lots of chances, we were a team, we suffered very little, hardly at all," Milan coach Stefano Pioli insisted.

"We were masters of the field, so the team's performance had to give us great confidence.

"The referee's decisions... yes, Franck has made a foul that can be avoided but it is so early in the game and should not be a second yellow card to leave a team in the Champions League 10 men after 30 minutes. It's a shame because the boys put in a really great effort. It is too bad, we deserved to win."

Griezmann, who re-joined Atletico on loan from Barcelona on the last day of the transfer window, struck with a superb volley with six minutes left to level the scores. It was his first goal in nine games in all competitions since his return.

Suarez's penalty was timed at 96min 21sec - the latest game-winning goal in the Champions League since the start of the 2003-04 season, when such data was first gathered - and it provided Diego Simeone's side with a huge boost.

The result leaves Atletico on four points from their two matches, and puts them in a strong position to reach the knockout stage, sitting two points behind Liverpool and three clear of Porto in third.

"It's true, in the first 30 minutes they put us under so much pressure and we didn't have the tools to get out of that," Simeone said.

"Eleven against eleven, Milan were better than us, they played with more rhythm and were more dynamic. They pressed better than us and forced us to not play the way we wanted to.

"Then they were left with one less man and from there the game changed. They were superior to us.

"I'm very happy for Antoine, he needed this goal. I had no doubts in counting on him."

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