Champions League: AC Milan gain advantage over Barca in the first leg
AC Milan claimed a surprise 2-0 victory against La Liga leaders Barcelona at the San Siro. The seven-time UEFA Champions League winners will go confident into the second leg, where victory is possible if they can only prevent Barcelona from scoring.
Eighty-thousand anxious fans had a lot to get excited about as both teams were pushing for the opener early on. Sixteen minutes into the match and the home side had the best chance of the game, when Kevin Boateng clipped the ball wide from a Milan corner.
The Italian side made sure to close down any space for Messi, preventing the Ballon D’or winner from creating any chances for his team. The Argentinian had a relatively quiet night, frustrated with lack of possession.
Milan came out firing in the second half, going 1-0 up just ten minutes after the resart. A freekick from 30 yards out provided a scoring oppurtunity with Montolivo stepping up to take it. The spinning ball fell kindly for Boateng, who’s powerful shot left Victor Valdes stunned.
The La Liga champions claimed a hand ball as Montolivo’s freekick clearly glanced off Zapata’s hand before finding Boateng, however the referee allowed the goal, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Cesc Fabregas was soon replaced by Alexis Sanchez as the Spaniard was having a disappointing night, lacking quality on his final touches. Xavi had an opportunity to pull one back for Barca, getting very close with a freekick fired just over the bar before Iniesta tried his luck with an ambitious wide volley that failed to trouble the Milan keeper.
With less than nine minutes to go, a spectacular team goal doubled Milan’s lead. M’Baye made an instant impact after coming off the bench and finding El Shaarawy with an inch-perfect pass. The Italian unselfishly fed the ball to Muntari who’s finish got the party started at the San Siro.
The Italians will be travelling to the Nou Camp on March 12th with a comfortable 2-0 lead which they will be desperate to capitalise on. The prospect of revenge against Barcelona, who eliminated them in the quarter finals of last year’s campaign, is now well within their grasp
Elsewhere in the Champions League, the clash between Turkish side Galatasaray and Shalke ’04 of Germany ended in a draw with one each. Galatasaray took the lead after just 12 minutes with Didier Drogba’s pass finding on-form Yilmaz, who scored his seventh goal of this season’s Champions League.
It proved difficult to hold off the attacking force of the German side; they equalised on the brink of half time with a smashing shot from Jones. The away goal for Shalke could be vital in three weeks’ time when they host Galatasaray in the decisive second leg encounter.
Umida Ibrahimova, sports correspondent