'Humiliated': Italian media reaction to AC Milan defeat

AC Milan's 4-0 drubbing at Manchester United in the Champions League shows the seven-times European champions are now scrabbling in the rubble of their great past, Italian media said today.

"Once upon a time, there was Milan," read the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport after Milan went out of the competition 7-2 on aggregate in the last 16 on Wednesday.

"Mission impossible turned into a humbling, and the ruins of the old Milan remain at Old Trafford."

Other Italian newspapers were equally scathing.

"Milan humiliated," said La Repubblica. "A lesson from (two-goal Wayne) Rooney. Milan go out with their heads hanging low - 4-0 isn't a defeat, it's a thrashing."

Even club bosses admitted the side had suffered a huge setback after much optimism had been expressed before the game about Milan's chances of reversing the 3-2 deficit from the home leg.

"Naturally, it's hard to swallow that the club which has won more international titles than anyone else loses 4-0," chief executive Adriano Galliani told reporters. "I'm a little ashamed."

Commentators said Milan's injury problems, with Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato and influential centre back Alessandro Nesta both unfit for the match, were no excuse.

"Losing at Old Trafford is acceptable, but not in such a complete way, without showing any desperate pride," said Gazzetta.

The defeat exposed the inexperience of rookie coach Leonardo, who was out-thought by United's master tactician Alex Ferguson.

Fielding two out-and-out strikers, Marco Borriello and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, while leaving David Beckham, the man whose crosses would have served them, on the bench for much of the match was one of Leonardo's mistakes, commentators said.

They also blamed a failure to significantly boost and rejuvenate the squad after Kaka left for Real Madrid last year, even though Milan remain in the Serie A title race, four points behind Inter Milan in second.

"A number of Milan players do not (still) have European stature," read an editorial in Gazzetta.