Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso has admitted that the pressure of facing his former club may have hurt Gonzalo Higuain in his side's 2-0 defeat to Juventus on Sunday night.
Higuain missed a penalty with the scoreline at 1-0, and was sent off later in the match for a pair of yellow cards – the first for a foul and the second for dissent almost immediately afterwards.
Gattuso, no stranger to the odd heated moment in his own playing career, told reporters after the match: "There are several penalty takers and they decide between themselves. He felt like taking it, he got it wrong, these things happen. Kessie missed one last season too.
"I do hope Pipita apologises to the referee for his attitude. He needs to learn to control himself more. I saw how much pressure he felt on his shoulders, taking a penalty against his old club, anyone who has played football knows that emotions can get to you in these situations."
The former Italy enforcer added that he didn't want to make excuses for the defeat, saying: "We mustn’t try to cling to alibis, yellow cards or not. We lost to a team that was clearly stronger than us.
"I also don’t want to talk about who wasn’t here. We were up against a team that has been winning for years and adds a big star every summer.
"We did what we had to do, we remained in the game and were naïve on the second goal, but Juve didn’t crush us. We played well for periods, but Juve are on a different level and we have to accept it.
"Maybe the penalty would’ve changed something, but we did struggle against their physicality and pace.
"Juventus aren’t just the strongest side in Italy right now, they are on the same level as Barcelona and Manchester City. I still think we could’ve stayed in the game to the end, and we very nearly did. For the first 20-25 minutes of the second half, we created some chances and stole the ball off them."
Milan remain in fifth place and are now 13 points behind Juventus. After facing Lazio next weekend Milan's schedule becomes easier which should see them pick up some lost points.