Rijkaard refuses to feel downbeat as run ends

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The Independent Football

Frank Rijkaard, the Barcelona coach, remained upbeat after his return to the San Siro ended in a 1-0 Champions' League defeat by Milan on Wednesday night.

Frank Rijkaard, the Barcelona coach, remained upbeat after his return to the San Siro ended in a 1-0 Champions' League defeat by Milan on Wednesday night.

Barcelona had been unbeaten all season going into the game but the former Celtic striker Henrik Larsson and Andres Iniesta both hit the crossbar as the Italians snatched victory through Andriy Shevchenko's first-half header.

"It's true that we didn't dominate for the entire game but that's not something for us to worry about," said Rijkaard, who played for Milan from 1988 to 1993 along with his compatriots Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. "We presented a very good image of ourselves in this game and we just have to follow the same line in future games. We shouldn't be concerned about a first defeat of the season. It doesn't matter. We're going to carry on working in the same way."

Barcelona have a five-point lead at the top of La Liga after seven games and still have a good chance of making the Champions' League knock-out phase, with six points from three matches.

The players agreed that normal service will resume soon enough if they continue playing the way they have been.

"We're sad about the result because we played very well," said the side's Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho. "We just have to keep looking forward and working in the same style. If we continue playing like this we know we'll carry on winning games."

Rijkaard enjoyed a hugely successful spell as a defender and midfielder with Milan, and he received a warm reception from the home fans.

"All I can say is that I humbly accept the welcome," the Dutchman said after the game. "It was almost embarrassing but I was proud of the reception. I had a very beautiful spell here."

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