Montella expects battle for Europe to go to final game after Empoli loss


Vincenzo Montella shrugged off AC Milan's shock 2-1 home defeat to Empoli in Serie A on Sunday, insisting the race to qualify for Europe will go down to the last week of the season.

Levan Mchedlidze headed in the opener for the visitors against the run of play and Empoli goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski made amends for bringing down Mario Pasalic, saving Suso's spot-kick.

Mame Thiam fired Empoli further ahead and although Gianluca Lapadula reduced the arrears, Milan were beaten and missed the chance to move further clear of their European rivals as a result.

Montella suggested Milan are performing as well as he had forecast after his sixth-placed side slipped to a first defeat in their last five matches.

"I expected [Suso] to score," Montella told Mediaset Premium. "In Doha he had a similar attempt and it went in, but I didn't take into account that Skorupski has huge feet.

"Milan are having a season that is in line with expectations. The race for Europe will be decided in the final round. We can't get downhearted after this defeat and I don't think it will ultimately make much difference."

Montella's side wasted a number of opportunities during the game and the coach insisted that Milan had done enough to claim at least a point against Empoli.

"We can't just look at the result and assume everything from there, as in the last 15 minutes we created so many chances and objectively we should have at least equalised," Montella added.

"We lack determination in our finishing and in the final ball. The team did what it was supposed to do, but you win games like this with that extra bit of determination in the box.

"I am disappointed by the result, but the players tried to the very end to turn it around. In the first 20 minutes, we had about six shots on target, five of them from the edge of the box. Then we lost intensity.

"The team improved after the break. We can do more, but today the team did some good things. It's just a shame about the result."