The pressure was heaped on AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri last night after Celtic’s Champions League opponents continued their dreadful run of Serie A form with a 1-1 home draw against ten-man Genoa.
Milan, who face the Scottish champions in Glasgow on Tuesday, dropped to 11th on 14 points after Alberto Gilardino equalised from the spot for Genoa when Urby Emanuelson clumsily brought down Sime Vrsaljko, four minutes after Kaka’s elegant fourth-minute opener.
Mario Balotelli compounded Milan’s misery by missing a 36th-minute penalty, only the second time in his career he missed from the spot.
Not even Thomas Manfredini being sent off after fouling Balotelli for the penalty could help toothless Milan who have not won in five league games and saw their misfiring strikers waste a series of chances.
Allegri’s role at the San Siro is coming under scrutiny amid a power struggle at the club. To compound his problems, Milan have been struck down with a chronic injury list which includes Marco Amelia, Stephan El Shaarawy, Mattia De Sciglio, Giampaolo Pazzini, Antonio Nocerino and Cristian Zaccardo.
By contrast, Celtic are in buoyant mood ahead of Tuesday’s game, a match they must win to retain any hope of progressing to the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Two injury-time goals helped them beat Aberdeen 3-1 yesterday and manager Neil Lennon expects to welcome back James Forrest and Anthony Stokes to face AC Milan.
Forrest is on course to return from a hamstring injury, while Stokes is available after personal issues led to him missing yesterday’s game.
The Celtic manager hailed his side’s never-day-die spirit after they struck twice in stoppage time through Derk Boerrigter and Kris Commons. After the win, Lennon said: “Psychologically, today it gives us a massive lift. We won our home game against Ajax and played very well in the San Siro.
“Milan will be different, they have a couple of players back, so all the ingredients are there.”
Boerrigter’s Celtic career has been hampered by an ankle injury he brought with him when he signed from Ajax in the summer, but after scoring his first goal for the club he is hoping to face the Rossoneri.