AC Milan captain Davide Calabria and manager Stefano Pioli both accepted that they were not ready for Liverpool‘s fast start, taking it as a lesson for the future.
After a year-and-a-half away, the fans were back at Anfield for a big Champions League night on Wednesday, and were in full voice.
A breathtaking You’ll Never Walk Alone made way for a rendition of Allez, Allez, Allez to drown out the Champions League theme, which set the tone for the night.
Roaring the Reds on from kickoff, the Kop was rewarded with a relentless display of attacking football that put Milan on the back foot for most of the first half.
Somehow, they recovered and went into half-time 2-1 up, but Liverpool regained their control after the break and emerged rightful winners.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia after the game, as relayed by Football Italia, Calabria – who wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Alessio Romagnoli – admitted Milan were caught off-guard.
“Liverpool started really strong. You can see they are accustomed to a different tempo and are one of the best teams in the world, with formidable players in every area,” he said.
“It was a difficult match and almost like several games in one.
“We didn’t feel afraid, we were just struggling to get a grip on the situation.
“We did and turned the game around, but made mistakes and should’ve been more concentrated to avoid conceding those two goals.”
Calabria noted how Milan’s inexperience cost them, with it being “the first time many of us were in the Champions League,” and Pioli agreed in his interview with Sky Sport Italia.
“Liverpool had superior quality and intensity in the first 20 to 25 minutes,” the manager said.
“The regret is the two goals conceded at the beginning of the second half, but this is the level.
“In terms of intensity and quality, a game like this will make us grow a lot.
“The team was motivated and, in truth, we expected a strong start from the opponents. [We were] too static.
“Then the environment, the match, the quality and intensity of the opponents put us in difficulty.”
Interestingly, Pioli also argued that the absence of a tall centre-forward, with Olivier Giroud only fit enough for a bench role and Zlatan Ibrahimovic ruled out due to injury, forced Milan to change their game plan.
This would suggest that the return fixture at the San Siro on December 7 could be a different proposition, with Milan having learned from their mistakes at Anfield.