Zlatan proud of AC Milan's efforts

Published Apr. 4, 2012 1:00 a.m. EDT

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes he and his team-mates have left the Champions League with their heads held high.

The Italian side lost 3-1 against Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night to bow out of the competition by the same score on aggregate at the quarter-final stage.

"Is the Champions League a curse for us? No it is not," Ibrahimovic said to www.acmilan.com. "We leave the competition with our heads held high."

Milan had held the defending champions to a goalless result at the San Siro last week but on Tuesday conceded two penalties which were converted by Barca's Lionel Messi.


"We are saddened," Ibrahimovic said. "It didn't go well. I didn't understand why Milan were handed the second penalty."

Milan players complained to the referee over his decision to award a spot-kick against Rossonero defender Alessandro Nesta for holding Barca's Sergio Busquets in the area.

"I now understand why some people get annoyed with Barcelona," Ibrahimovic said. "I have seen that call made rarely in my career. It's not nice to be eliminated like this, even though it is against the best team in the world."

Milan have not reached the semi-finals of the competition since winning the Champions League in 2007.

"Right now the difference between Barcelona and Milan is big," Nesta said. "But I believe Milan has the economic and technical possibilities to get close to this team.

"One day or another Milan will beat Barcelona.

"I am certain that Milan will do better and in a couple of years' time can return to dream of great European nights.

"We arrived to Barcelona with all to play for and we played until the end against the best side in the world.

"We are nevertheless the strongest team in Italy and now we have to focus on the domestic front and win the Scudetto."

Milan are two points clear of Juventus at the top of the Serie A standings.