By FOX Sports Staff
The Rossoneri secured a 3-0 win over their league rivals on Saturday night at the San Siro and hold a slender one-point lead over the Biancoceleste. Giampaolo Pazzini scored a double within the game while Kevin Prince-Boateng also registered a goal on the night.
It marks an impressive rise up the table as Milan were as low as 15th in the table after eight games into the season but consistent results in the league after the turn of the year has allowed them to finally reach the final Champions League qualifying berth.
With 10 games remaining till the end of the season, the 45-year-old knows that it will be a challenge to stay third but he is confident that his side can fulfil the objective.
"Now we have to think about defending third place. The players deserve it and I'm happy for them," he told the club website.
"We have to improve but that's normal as we're a young side. You saw the desire to get forward and score in the derby and we paid a high price for that. Today [Saturday] we did better.
"When things seem to be going well, we can sometimes fall into traps. It's been a while since we won without conceding and it was important that we did that today.
"Results [like these] will help the players to do even better. The result was important for the head to head clashes as well.
"Friday's game [against Genoa] will be much more difficult as Genoa need points and the game against Barcelona [on March 12] prepares itself, so the later we focus on that, the better off we'll be."
New signing Cristian Zaccardo, signed from Parma in January, played in his first game for Milan in the Serie A encounter. The former Italy international is even hopeful that Milan can finish the season in second place as they trail Napoli by just five points.
"We're all ambitious people and now we want to get to second place," he announced.
"There are still many points left to win and things are still up for grabs. It'll be tough, but we'll try.
"If we keep on with performances like these then we can do well but we have to keep producing them.
"We did well this week as we've been doing for some time now. We knew we had to win. We're playing well and we're in good shape. "
Meanwhile, vice-president Adriano Galliani sees far greater significance than just the three points gained on the night.
"41 points in half a season, we're back to our level since Allegri joined [in 2010]. We had two months to rebuild the whole building [last year] and we have excellent foundations," he enthused.
"More players will come next season. We're playing good football and we're running fast. There are many reasons to be satisfied.
"We managed the game brilliantly. The first half displays against Juventus and Inter were amazing and we maybe deserved something more from those games.
"If Lazio finish with the same points as us, we'll get the third place spot as we have a better head to head record so this match was actually worth 4 points."