AC Milan boss Vincenzo Montella has praised his team's spirit following the side's last-gasp 3-2 victory over Croatian small fry HNK Rijeka in the Europa League.
The San Siro side threw away a two goal lead by conceding twice in the last ten minutes - but Milan then salvaged a last minute victory, with Patrick Cutrone scooping home the winning goal to the home fans' great relief.
Speaking to Sky Sports Italia after the match, via Football Italia, the Milan boss acknowledged that his side had been fortunate to claim the victory, but still praised his players for pulling off the win after seeing their two goal lead clawed back in such dramatic style.
Montella stated: "We’ve got to grow in the way we handle games. This was a valuable learning experience and we bring home the knowledge that you have to control a match at the 70th minute.
"I want to underline the spirit of the team, even with no energy left, that brought the victory home. It’s a great result, maybe not so much in terms of the scoreline, but it is a great step forward for the team. There was indescribable joy to see the team play with this energy and determination in the final minute."
Montella went on to express his desire to improve as a team, acknowledging the fact that the team have put somewhat underwhelming performances of late:
"We must improve our defensive movements, as we have perhaps struggled a little in terms of temperament under the weight of expectations. Rijeka played a consistently aggressive match and we should’ve created more chances, especially in the first half.
"There are negative and positive elements that come out from game to game. We want the growth to last for the entire 95 minutes, that isn’t happening yet, so I am here to work and improve the team."
Milan took the lead in the 14th minute, with André Silva bending a sumptuous strike beyond the Rijeka keeper. The home side were made to work hard, and played some truly directionless football before finally 52nd doubling their lead in the 52nd minute with a close-range Mateo Musacchio finish.
A defensive howler saw Boadu Maxwell pull a goal back for Rijeka with ten minutes to go, and Josip Elez thought he'd claimed his side a precious point after squeezing a penalty two minutes later. Cutrone proved to be the hero for Milan, clipping home an ice cool finish in stoppage time - before deliriously celebrating with his teammates and coaching team in the home dug-out.