Tuesday October 22 2013
CL: Milan hold Barcelona

Robinho and Lionel Messi found the net as Milan earned a 1-1 draw with Barcelona, wasting some great chances to win.

Elsewhere in Group H, Celtic beat Ajax 2-1, leaving Barca top on seven points, followed by Milan on five, Celtic three and Ajax one.

The Rossoneri were without Christian Abbiati, Stephan El Shaarawy, Giampaolo Pazzini, Daniele Bonera and Mattia De Sciglio, while Mario Balotelli was only fit for the bench after a thigh problem, so Kaka, Robinho and Valter Birsa started in a ‘strikerless’ system. Barca missed Jordi Alba and Ibrahima Afellay, but could count on a star trio of Leo Messi, Neymar and Alexis Sanchez.

They’ve become old enemies, as these teams have met in the last three consecutive campaigns. Milan had a very aggressive start and the ball was in the net after seven minutes, but Sulley Muntari – who scored against Barcelona last season – was offside on the Robinho through ball.

It was just a warning, as soon after Robinho robbed Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique in possession and exchanged passes with Kaka to prod past the on-rushing Victor Valdes. It was the first goal Barcelona have conceded so far in the Champions League this term.

Messi’s free kick struck the side-netting, but he got his goal when Milan lost the ball in midfield and he cut in past Cristian Zapata to fire low at the near post. The Argentine was in acres of space because Kevin Constant had pushed up and left a gap down Milan’s left, his sixth goal against the Rossoneri.

Philippe Mexes went very close to restoring their lead, but his header was off target from a Robinho corner that Victor Valdes completely misjudged.

Zapata charged down a Messi volley and Neymar flashed a solo effort across the face of goal, then Marco Amelia smothered an Alexis Sanchez volley after another Constant error.

Kaka looked sharp and had his shot charge down in the box, but Neymar aimed another volley just wide of the far post after Zapata’s poor clearance.

Robinho somehow failed to score at the start of the second half. Muntari’s assist was rolled across and the Brazilian just had to tap it past Valdes, but he incredibly hit a fresh-air shot.

Amelia did very well to deny Andres Iniesta, who had burst through the middle of the Milan defence only to scuff his finish, allowing the goalkeeper to block.

Balotelli came on for Robinho in the final 25 minutes at San Siro. Constant hit a screamer off target and Adriano turned wide from close range after running on to a Messi searching pass.

Muntari had a great chance on 81 minutes when he burst between centre-backs, but was tripping as he got there and could only scuff the finish at Victor Valdes.

Messi hit a free kick at the wall and Dani Alves tested Amelia from distance in the final minutes.

Milan 1-1 Barcelona

Scorers: Robinho 9 (M), Messi 23 (B)

Milan: Amelia; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Muntari, De Jong, Montolivo; Kaka (Emanuelson 71), Robinho (Balotelli 64), Birsa (Poli 80)

Barcelona: Victor Valdes; Adriano, Mascherano, Pique, Dani Alves; Iniesta, Busquets, Xavi; Neymar (Pedro 81), Alexis Sanchez (Fabregas 74), Messi

Ref: Brych (GER)