Zlatan Ibrahimovic has accused his AC Milan team-mates of lacking belief and energy after they conceded four goals in the second half of the Milan derby and tossed away a 2-0 half-time against arch rivals Inter.
Influential striker Ibrahimovic set up Ante Rebic’s 40th minute opener and then scored himself seconds before the interval as his side belied their midtable position to look in control against the Serie A title chasers.
Their lead evaporated within eight minutes of the restart as Marcelo Brozovic and Matias Vecino drew Inter level before Stefan de Vrij and Romelu Lukaku sealed victory, leading Ibrahimovic at a loss to understand the collapse.
‘It’s difficult to explain what happened,’ the frustrated Swede told Sky Sport Italia in the aftermath of another depressing night for Milan in a season when they have turned to the 38-year-old on a six-month deal in an attempt to improve their fortunes.
‘At half-time we told ourselves the first 15 minutes going back out there will be crucial, and in that 15-minute spell we conceded two goals.
‘We stopped playing, the team stopped believing, we stopped pressing, didn’t pass it around enough. From the equaliser onwards, everything collapsed.’
The thrilling derby proved a real scare for Inter, who recovered to return to the top of the table on goal difference above reigning champions Juventus.
Milan and Ibrahimovic had shown promising form and entered the showdown having lost only one of their last 11 matches, but the despondent veteran conceded that a stronger winning mentality could have seen them hold on to their advantage.
‘I think a lot of it is down to experience, because you must know how to control a game at 2-0 up, not just winning at the end,’ he rued.
‘It’s strange because our first half was practically perfect. I expected more from Inter and the first half performance did not look like a team worthy of second place. They did after the break.’
Milan host Juventus in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final on Thursday.