After watching his charges earn a key win at the Swedbank Stadion this evening, Massimiliano Allegri naturally had plenty of praise for his men following a job well done. But being the perfectionist he is, the coach was also keen to stress that the match could have been wrapped up long before Tevez finally settled Bianconeri nerves late on.
He said: “Considering how the game went, we should have put it to bed in the first half. We had lots of chances. The lads played well though and adapted very well to the type of match it was.
“Malmo chased us all over the park and we got our final ball wrong a number of times. The second half was easier, shall we say, but with all the chances we had we should have wrapped it up sooner.”
It's now crucial to follow up tonight's win with a big performance against Atletico in two weeks' time. “We'll be up against a side that almost won the competition last season,” he continued. “We have to try and beat them by two clear goals because we have the chance to qualify and finish top of the group.”
The manager then singled out some of his players for individual praise, starting with Marchisio and Llorente, who linked up for the first goal. “It was a move we might have been able to pull off in the first half. Marchisio did superbly to play it into the path of Llorente, then he and Tevez showed great movement up front.”
Besides supplying the killer pass for the Lion King to open the scoring, Marchisio covered every blade of grass in midfield. Allegri enthused: “He's world-class. He has magnificent technique and he reads the game so well. Claudio helps out Andrea in organising the team's play. Pogba is young and occasionally a little rash but he performed well tonight too.”
The coach concluded by commenting on what proved to be a key tactical switch. “In the first half they were man-marking Pirlo. We either needed the two central midfielders to drop a few yards deeper or Vidal needed to come back. When we strung a few more passes together we managed to work our way closer to their area and cause them problems.”