UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st leg
AC Milan 0-0 Barcelona 



The world's best footballer Lionel Messi (above) attempted to dribble away from Milan's Robinho



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from the San Siro 

C Milan were able to hold Champions League holders Barcelona to a 0-0 stalemate in their Champions League
 first-leg encounter at San Siro.

The visitors had their chances, among them a penalty claim on Alexis Sanchez that was denied, but a sterling defensive display by Massimiliano Allegri’s men saw the Spanish outfit frustrated and sets up an enthralling second leg at Camp Nou in six days time.

An exciting start to the match saw Milan nearly storm into the lead after only three minutes. A scramble inside the penalty area saw the ball spill to Robinho in space, but with the goal at his mercy, he could not find the target as his volley flew over the bar.

The early shock did not faze Barca though, who slowly began to cause problems at the other end of the pitch. With 10 minutes gone, Lionel Messi’s low drive was fumbled by Christian Abbiati, who was fortunate to see Dani Alves scoop the rebound the wrong side of the post.

Abbiati was at the thick of things again within minutes, after he charged off his line to bring down Sanchez in the area. There did not appear to be much contact with the ball from the Milan keeper, but no penalty was forthcoming, leaving the visitors to remonstrate furiously with referee Jonas Eriksson- who celebrated his 38th birthday on the day of the game.


AC Milan have never lost the home leg of a European cup quarter-final tie- winning ten and drawing five.

Not long after, the Catalans were able to find the back of the net, but the goal was correctly disallowed as Messi was in a clearly offside position when he turned home Alves’ cross.

Milan, who have conceded the most goals out of the sides remaining in this season's competition, survived the scare, and saw another golden chance go begging with 20 minutes gone. Clarence Seedorf put Zlatan Ibrahimovic through on goal, but his finish was weak and easily smothered by Victor Valdes.

Barca, who on the night failed to score for the first time in 29 Champions League matches, were unsurprisingly able to control nearly two-thirds of possession, but some dogged defending from the hosts and the questionable state of the San Siro pitch prevented them from getting fully into their stride.

The Milan back line was caught out 10 minutes before half-time though, as the former Udinese forward Alexis Sanchez was put clean through on goal, but Luca Antonini matched him stride for stride and got back to make a fantastic block just as the Chilean was about to pull the trigger.

Andres Iniesta sent another warning Milan’s way coming out of the interval, with a quick dart into space ending with a snap shot from the edge of the area that flew just wide.


The Catalans remain unbeaten in ten games in all competitions since a 3-2 La Liga defeat to Osasuna in early February.

However, Barcelona, who edged past Milan 3-2 in Italy in the group stages, were finding it increasingly difficult to get a clear sight on goal as the second-half wore on, with Allegri’s men keeping their discipline and organisation at the back.

With 67 minutes gone, substitute Urby Emanuelson nearly made an immediate impact seconds after his arrival when he raced onto a through pass deep in the area, but his first touch was woeful and halted the move in its tracks.

Barcelona hit back soon after through a substitute of their own, with Tello, who replaced Andres Iniesta on the hour mark, finding space on the right side of the box and letting fly with an effort that rippled the side netting.

Tello caused more Milan hearts to flutter when his dangerous cutback saw Messi’s volley deflected just over the bar, and the resulting corner was headed just wide by Carles Puyol.

Minutes before the end, AC Milan goalkeeper Abbiati was on hand once more to deny Lionel Messi, beating away the Argentine’s low drive down to his left, with substitute Tello also thwarted from the rebound by another brilliant tackle from Antonini as Milan preserved the 0-0 scoreline right until the end in a manful performance from the Italians.

Both sides will lock horns once more for the return leg at Camp Nou in six days time for the right to play the winners of the tie between Benfica and Chelsea- which the Premier League side lead 1-0 after their first leg the night before. 



Wednesday 28th March 2012

UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st leg 

San Siro


AC Milan 0-0 Barcelona                                    KO 7:45pm               (HT 0-0)


AC Milan:  32 Abbiati- 6/10, 25 Bonera- 7.5/10, 5 Mexes- 6.5/10, 13 Nesta (C)- 7.5/10 (Mesbah 77- 1.5/10), 77 Antonini- 9/10, 27 Boateng- 6.5/10 (Emanuelson 66- 3.5/10), 10 Seedorf- 7.5/10, 22 Nocerino- 7/10, 23 Ambrosini- 8/10, 70 Robinho- 7/10 (El Shaawary 72- 2.5/10), 11 Ibrahimovic- 7.5/10.

Subs not used:  1 Amelia, 76 Alberto Yepes, 18 Aquilani, 21 Maxi Lopez 

Booked:       Seedorf (15), Ambrosini (43), Nesta (61)


Barcelona:  1 Valdes- 7/10, 2 Dani Alves- 7/10, 3 Pique- 7.5/10, 14 Mascherano- 7.5/10, 5 Puyol (C)- 8/10, 6 Xavi- 9/10, 15 Keita- 6.5/10, 16 Sergio Busquets- 6/10, 8 Iniesta- 6.5/10 (Tello 61- 3.5/10), 10 Messii- 7.5/10, 9 Sanchez- 6.5/10 (Pedro 83- 1.5/10).

Subs not used:  13 Pinto, 26 Muniesa, 35 Montoya, 4 Fabregas, 11 Thiago

Booked:       Keita (36)


My Man of the Match:      Lucas Antonini (AC Milan)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:       Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)- Rating 6/10 



Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden)- 7.5/10
Attendance: 76,169 



Match Facts

Possession: AC Milan- 41%            Barcelona- 59%

Shots: AC Milan- 8              Barcelona- 10

Shots on target: AC Milan- 3             Barcelona- 8

Shots off target: AC Milan- 5            Barcelona- 2

Corners: AC Milan- 3                Barcelona- 6

Fouls: AC Milan- 18              Barcelona- 11

Offside: AC Milan- 1               Barcelona- 3

Assists: AC Milan- None            Barcelona- None



AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri

"I thought we had Barcelona under relatively good control considering the quality of players they have no matter what selection is picked in terms of personnel. It was always going to be a difficult match for us especially as a home side when you are expected to take the game to the opposition which to be fair we didn't do as often. We were given one or two half chances and a massive chance and not taken them which you have to fear about when playing Barcelona. Robinho's miss was quite extraordinary in just the second minute which would have given us a fantastic start to the match and in hind sight, we should have a lead in many ways. We slowed the tempo down, showed great defensive resilience with some outstanding performances at the back from Luca (Antonini) and Alessandro (Nesta) in particular. They had a penalty shout which could have easily gone against us but they had an off night and to be honest you can count how many bad matches Barcelona have on one hand. It is very rare that they go without scoring a goal and playing particularly well in comparison to their usual, high and blistering standards."



Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola

"On another night things might have been different for us and we could have had a penalty kick. Alexis (Sanchez) is not a diver and he has gone over after a foul from the goalkeeper right under the nose of the additional assistant referee who must have more of a say or influence and help the referee. That is what he is there for surely. We weren't at our best but the lads have still managed to grind out a good result and fair play to AC Milan because they stuck with their guns and principles and made it difficult for us to play our game. Everyone knows the brand of football we like to play and they were defensively resilient and very resourceful in the key areas. We didn't have enough in the final third and their defensive play came out on top in the end. The good thing is that we have a second leg at home where we hope to use our outstanding home record to our advantage but it won't be easy. We found AC Milan a tough nut to crack when we played in the group stages and both matches were hard. Both teams won't lie down and they have a hold over us in a way where they could score an away goal which could come into play next week. Both sides have masses of experience in their teams and real quality. Both clubs are two of the best and most successful in Europe. It was 0-0 but one of the most entertaining goalless draws I have seen for a long time and I am looking forward to the second leg for sure."


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