MILAN, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- AC Milan beat Udinese 1-0 at home on Saturday to earn a precious win in preparation for their Champions League match against Barcelona.
Valter Birsa scored the winner in the 22nd minute to award Milan the win which they needed in earnest. This is the second win for the Milan side in their recent six games.
Udinese struggled to create any clear goalscoring opportunities, the closest they went being Antonio Di Natale's 25-yard free-kick that was tipped onto the crossbar by Gabriel in the 64th minute.
With the win, Milan leapfrogged Udinese to the eighth place in the Serie A table.
AC Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri praised his midfielders in helping improve the team's defence.
"The midfielders worked well, as did Robinho and Valter Birsa, while Riccardo Montolivo won back possession several times with smart interceptions," he said.
"Nigel De Jong has also learned how to play in front of the defence, whereas Montolivo played there in extraordinary fashion last season when Massimo Ambrosini was injured," he said.
He insisted that his side deserved the win over Udinese.
"We played well in the first half but wasted a few too many counter-attack chances, but then we created more chances after the break and it was a deserved victory," he said.
The Milan boss hinted that this win could boost his team's morale prior to their Champions League match against Barcelona on Tuesday.
"The important thing was to win tonight. We'll need a perfect performance on Tuesday to get a result," he said.
Udinese head coach Francesco Guidolin said he saw improvements in his side despite their loss at Milan.
"I believe we are a team who absolutely need to improve the quality of our away performances, as those have always been bad this season," he said.
"Having said that, in terms of determination, courage, going forward and confidence I think there were steps forward. Even if it wasn't sufficient to get a result, it was an improvement," he said.
"Milan are a strong side, certainly stronger than Udinese, although they had a few difficulties at the moment and will face Barcelona next week. An Udinese in good shape could' ve won here. As we are not as sharp as last season, we lost," he said.
Elsewhere, Cagliari came from behind to beat Catania at home and claim their first win since the opening day of the season.
Gonzalo Bergessio gave the visitors the perfect start in the fifth minute before Cagliari hit back through Victor Ibarbo 21 minutes later.
Catania suffered a blow when they had defender Nicola Legrottaglie sent off just before the break but the scores remained level until six minutes from time, when substitute Mauricio Pinilla pounced to settle the match and leave Catania hovering just above the relegation zone with only one win from their opening eight matches.