Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted that Wayne Rooney’s strike had left United as marginal favourites to progress to the final.
However, he refused to blame the poor positioning of Dida, who was also cuplable for the opening goal when he failed to hold Ronaldo’s early header and then helped the ball over the line.
“Perhaps he could have done a little bit better on the final goal but it was a fantastic shot by Rooney and Dida made a number of very important saves for us early in the match,” said Ancelotti.
Milan lost both Paolo Maldini, who failed to emerge for the second half because of knee injury, and tenacious midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, who went off ten minutes after the restart but is expected to be fit for next week.
“We lost the experience of Gattuso and Maldini and they certainly would have contributed,” Ancelotti said. “We are in better shape for the second leg than when we played Bayern in the quarter-finals.
“It is difficult to say if things would have been different if they had stayed on, but there is doubt that players with their kind of experience play a vital role when you are under pressure.
“I think it pretty much boiled down to the ball we lost that led to the winning goal. It was pretty much over at that stage and 2-2 would have been a good result for us.
“But that goal has complicated things. This result will suit Manchester. It means they can play on the counter attack which is one of their great strengths but it is all still to play for and we have a lot of confidence and belief going into the game next week.”
Milan defender Alessandro Nesta felt Milan only had themselves to blame for the concession of two second half goals that transformed the tie.
“It’s our own fault because we had the game in our hands, but it was inevitable in the end that we’d concede the two goals,” said the 31-year-old central defender.
Right-back Massimo Oddo concurred: “We could have won, it’s a shame. In the second half we committed two team errors and they punished us for that. A draw would have been better but we showed tonight we’re at a high level.”