Allegri: AC Milan can claim second
AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri is confident the club can still win the race to second spot in the Serie A after matching current second-placed Napoli in a 1-1 draw.
The two sides went toe-to-toe in an enthralling match, Milan's Mathieu Flamini putting the home side ahead before Goran Pandev levelling just four minutes later.
But neither side could find the winning goal in the second half, Flamini's straight red card the biggest talking point.
However, Allegri saw enough in his side's performance to believe the race for the league's runner-up spot will be a closely contested fight.
"Milan played a good game," Allegri told Sky Sport Italia. "We have only made one error, for Pandev's goal.
"We have not missed the last train (for second place). We are in the race and we have also kept the gap to Fiorentina at two wins.
"There are still several games to go until the end of the season and our objective remains qualifying for the Champions League through second or third place.
"To get third would be good anyway: at this point during the first round we were 10 points off Fiorentina!"
Allegri surprised many before kick-off by leaving top scorer Stephan El Shaarawy on the bench despite a lack of firepower in the frontline, Mario Balotelli starting the first of his three-game ban.
But the 45-year defended his decision, believing he needed to handle Shaarawy's potential with the utmost care.
"(Shaarawy) is the revelation of the championship but he is only 20 and he needs to be managed," he explained.
"He must recharge his batteries, both mentally and physically. Besides, Robinho had a good game."
However, the Milan coach may need to turn to Shaarawy in the final race to the end of the season, unsure if the club can successfully revoke Balotelli's two remaining games of his three-match ban.
"We know that he is an important element for us, but I don't know if we will have him against Juve," he confessed. "Anyway, there is (Giampaolo) Pazzini, who is doing very well."
Meanwhile, Flamini said he was disappointed to leave his team a man down in the final stages of the game, but insisted it was out of a 'desire' to earn the club a precious victory.
"I'm happy about scoring the goal. I had so much joy in scoring my second goal in a row, but I am disappointed about my red card," he told reporters after the game.
"I wanted to show that I am a player full of enthusiasm who deserves to wear the Milan shirt.
"It is a mistake to leave the team with ten man, but I had a great desire and anger can happen in football occasionally."