Mi­lan aim to break first-half bad habits

Weekly Trust - - Shot! -

AC Mi­lan’s slow starts to games are threat­en­ing to undo the team’s good work be­fore Christ­mas and re­turn them to the mid-ta­ble medi­ocrity of re­cent sea­sons.

En­dur­ing their third cam­paign with­out Cham­pi­ons League football, Mi­lan have been caught nap­ping in their last three games, con­ced­ing two goals in the first half-hour of each match.

De­spite spir­ited -- though not al­ways suc­cess­ful -- fight­backs each time, their lapses have cost them pre­cious points in the league and led to elim­i­na­tion from the Coppa Italia.

They will be hop­ing to avoid giv­ing their op­po­nents an­other head start when they visit Udi­nese to­mor­row.

Vin­cenzo Mon­tella’s side, just two points be­hind Serie A lead­ers Ju­ven­tus af­ter their win over the Turin side in Oc­to­ber, have dropped to sev­enth, 11 points off the pace and seven adrift of Napoli in the Cham­pi­ons League play­off spot.

The run started 10 days ago when Mi­lan hit back to draw 2-2 at Torino af­ter go­ing two goals be­hind in 25 min­utes and sur­viv­ing a missed penalty.

Last Satur­day, they con­ceded two goals in the open­ing 10 min­utes against Napoli in game that was cru­cial to their Cham­pi­ons League hopes.

De­spite re­cov­er­ing well in the sec­ond half, they lost 2-1, leav­ing them well adrift of their third-place op­po­nents and low­er­ing their sights to the Europa League.

On Wed­nes­day, they let in two goals in 21 min­utes at Ju­ven­tus in their cup quar­ter-fi­nal, be­fore again fight­ing back well in the sec­ond half but still los­ing 2-1.

“If we played ev­ery game the way we do the last half-hour, we’d win a lot more of­ten,” Mon­tella told state broad­caster Rai af­ter Wed­nes­day’s game.

“We are im­prov­ing and re­duc­ing the gap with the top teams but we still need time. They were two hard-fought matches and we must be proud of our­selves,” he added.

“Ju­ven­tus and Napoli are two re­ally strong sides and they’ve been work­ing to­gether for a long time”.

Borus­sia Dort­mund striker, Em­er­ick Pierre Aubameyang

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