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UEFA Champions League
18 September 2013
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: W. Stark
• Attendance: 54623
E. Izaguirre 82' (own goal)
S. Muntari 86'
Milan will travel to Ajax on Tuesday October 2 as they see back-to-back victories whilst Celtic will look to replicate their famous victory from last season as they host Barcelona, who ran out 4-0 winners tonight. That's all from me, folks. Until next time, goodbye!
FT: Milan 2-0 Celtic. A late own goal from Emilio Izaguirre and a strike from Sulley Muntari ensured the Rossoneri's Champions League group stage campaign got off to the perfect start. In truth, Celtic will feel hard done by after they more than matched their Italian opponents and were undone by a huge slice of misfortune. Plenty of positives for Neil Lennon but the points head to Milan.
90' + 2'
Milan pass the ball around contently as they seek to run down the clock. What a valuable three points this could prove to be.
Celtic are not giving up hope however and Stokes lines up a shot from the edge of the box which flies narrowly over the top. The Hoops just have not had enough quality in the final third.
Neil Lennon decides to make a late change, introducing Nir Biton in place of Charlie Mulgrew. Certainly a huge chunk of fortune around Milan's victory this evening.
With the points in the bag, Allegri decides to shore up the Milan midfield, replacing Alessandro Matri with Andrea Poli.
Goal Sulley Muntari
MUNTARI MAKES IT 2-0! Milan wrap up the three points as Sulley Muntari reacts quickest to poke home the rebound after Forster had produced a brilliant one-handed save to deny Balotelli's superb free kick. Lennon looks crushed on the touchline.
Yellow Card Scott Brown
The Celtic players are clearly disappointed by that goal and Scott Brown picks up a booking for an off-the-ball incident on Balotelli. A promising position here for Balotelli to test Forster.
Own Goal E. Izaguirre
MILAN TAKE THE LEAD! Cristian Zapata is the man wheeling away as his shot takes a wicked deflection off Izaguirre and deflects into the net, leaving Forster wrong-footed. A huge hint of fortune there but Milan will not care.
STOKES HITS THE BAR! De Jong concedes a free kick on Pukki just outside the box and Stokes executes a fine, curling effort which crashes against the woodwork. That would have been some way to mark his Champions League debut.
Whatever Cristiano Ronaldo can do, Lionel Messi can do. The Argentine has now bagged a hat trick to give Barcelona a 4-0 lead over Ajax in the other Group H match.
Lennon decides to freshen up his forward line, replacing Kris Commons with Teemu Pukki.
Neil Lennon decides to make his first substitution with Dirk Boerrigter replacing Adam Matthews. Max Allegri opts to make an attacking change, replacing Kevin Constant with Robinho. Can the Brazilian fire Milan to victory?
Yellow Card Charles Mulgrew
Charlie Mulgew picks up the second yellow card of the game after a mistimed challenge on De Jong.
Gerard Pique has extended Barcelona's lead in the other Group H match and they hold a 3-0 winning margin over Ajax.
Matri has been rather ineffective tonight and once he again he sees his shot well blocked by Lustig before Zaccardo's volley flashes wide. Could Allegri be tempted to make another change?
Balotelli steps up to take the free kick but his shot disappointingly strikes Commons in the wall. The Scottish side break and De Jong races back to produce a crucial last-ditch challenge to prevent Brown from getting his shot away.
Yellow Card E. Ambrose
Efe Ambrose picks up the first caution of the game when he brings down Muntari just outside the box. Certainly within Balotelli range.
The home crowd vent their frustration as another Milan attack breaks down. The Rossoneri have looked really poor tonight and have really lacked creativity in the midfield.
Max Allegri has seen enough and he decides to replace Valter Birsa with Urby Emanuelson. Can the Dutchman make a difference?
WHAT A MISS FROM MUNTARI! Balotelli lays the ball out wide for Constant and the left-back picks out Muntari with a precise cross at the back post. The goal is gaping for the Ghanaian but he cannot keep his header down and Forster watches the ball flash fortunately over the top. What a chance!
Milan are starting to look a little shaky in defence and Samaras' downward header causes confusion in the penalty area but Mulgrew cannot make contact with the overhead kick.
Mulgrew opts to play the ball short and after a good spell of possession, Commons takes a shot which deflects off Constant and behind for a corner. Mulgrew delivers it but Muntari rises highest to clear.
Samaras is beginning to look more lively in this second half and he draws a foul from De Jong. Can Celtic threaten from this free kick?
Milan are finally starting to settle in this second half and Van Dijk makes a crucial block to deny Nocerino's goalbound drive. Approaching the hour mark and still goalless.
Incidentally, Lionel Messi has scored again in the other Group H match to give Barcelona a 2-0 lead over Ajax.
Nocerino delivers a cross into the Celtic box and Balotelli seizes upon the ball, swivelling and sending a shot high over the bar. Allegri must be contemplating a change soon.
SAMARAS GOES CLOSE! The Greek attacker produces a brilliant burst of speed to evade De Jong before sending a swerving shot just wide of the post. Celtic looking the more likely team to take the lead here!
Incidentally, Milan have won only five of their last 18 home Champions League matches.
Celtic have started the second half brightly and Lustig flicks on Mulgrew's corner but it strikes Balotelli, allowing Milan to clear. The home fans do not seem impressed by what they are witnessing here.
Celtic assistant coach Mjallby is up in arms as Commons gets into a promising position on the left corner of the box before slicing an effort well wide of the target. Early warning signs for Milan.
Wolfgang Stark blows his whistle and Milan get the second half underway. Fingers crossed for some goals!
HT: Milan 0-0 Celtic. Hardly a memorable first half but one that Neil Lennon will be delighted with as his side have proved more than a match for the Rossoneri. Allegri's side have lacked width and they have really struggled to seriously threaten Forster. Will we see an improvement in the second half?
45' + 2'
Milan end the half well but there is no reward as Muntari's acrobatic effort flies narrowly over the crossbar. Wolfgang Stark blows his whistle to signal the end of the half.
45' + 1'
GOOD SAVE FROM FORSTER! Balotelli has hardly had a sniff of goal in the first half but his snapshot takes a wicked deflection off Ambrose and requires a fingertipped stop from Forster to push the ball away from the bottom corner.
Ironically, Zaccardo has looked one of Milan's most dangerous attacking threats and his dangerous cross into the box is well headed clear by Ambrose.
Matthews has made some promising runs down the right but once again his final product is disappointing and he runs the ball out for a goal kick. It's been far from an exciting first half.
Milan have struggled to threaten the Celtic goal and Muntari sums up their frustration by blasting an effort high over the bar. I expect Allegri will have some stern words with his players at the break.
Anthony Stokes springs to life, seizing on a loose Milan pass before jinking inside Zapata and striking a low shot towards goal, which deflects off Mexes for a corner. Can Celtic make one of these set pieces count?
It's hardly been a tale of strikers so far with Balotelli and Matri isolated for Milan up front with Stokes a rather anonymous figure leading the Celtic attack.
In contrast, Milan are happy to sit back and Celtic are enjoying a lot of possession. Izaguirre's pressure on Zaccardo pays off as he wins a corner for the visitors but it is once again headed clear by Zapata.
Celtic are pressing Milan all over the pitch and the Rossoneri just cannot lay the ball off quick enough. Lennon certainly winning the tactical battle so far.
NOCERINO GOES CLOSE! Mexes produces a wonderful chipped pass to pick out Nocerino and he sends a dipping shot narrowly over the crossbar. Scott Brown needs to get closer to the Milan midfielder there.
Half an hour gone and no goals in the Giuseppe Meazza. After last night's Champions League goal fest, it has been very quiet around Europe tonight with the only goal coming in the Barcelona vs Ajax game courtesy of Lionel Messi.
With this narrow diamond formation, Milan are lacking width and it has been a relatively comfortable opening 28 minutes for Neil Lennon's side. Allegri shouts his orders from the touchline.
A bit of a comedy moment as Zaccardo is sent hurdling over the hoarding boards after a shove from Izaguirre. It's safe to say that he isn't too pleased with the Honduran.
Izaguirre's determined run wins a corner for Celtic but Zapata rises highest to clear Mulgrew's delivery. Despite Celtic's good play, Abbiati has yet to be seriously tested.
Incidentally, there has been a goal in the other Group H match as Lionel Messi has given Barcelona a 1-0 lead over Ajax.
Celtic are certainly not afraid to shoot and the ball sets up nicely for Commons, who sends a fizzing drive wide of the target. Celtic are looking pretty comfortable here.
Alessandro Matri was a thorn in Celtic's defence last season as he scored two goals to give Juventus a 5-0 aggregate victory in the round of 16. Can he inflict more misery on the Scottish champions tonight?
MATRI GOES CLOSE! Zaccardo makes a strong run forward from right back and his cross into the middle is glanced by the head of Matri, forcing Forster into a good save.
Commons shifts the ball left to Mulgrew but Constant races out of the goal brilliantly to deflect the ball behind for a corner. Crucial piece of defending from the Guinean international.
The Milan players appear completely baffled by that decision. Can Celtic take advantage?
Lustig advances from right-back and he delivers a cross into the box which flicks off a Milan defender and rolls through to Abbiati. Somehow Wolfgang Stark has deemed that a passback. Astonishing.
Balotelli is sent flying by a challenge from Lustig but refuses to show his anger, instead showing a little smirk. Can he continue his good recent goalscoring form? One thing is for sure...Celtic will not want to concede a penalty.
Matthews makes a good run down the right-hand side but he cannot pick out a yellow shirt in the middle with his low cross and De Jong makes the interception. Decent start from both sides with Milan shading it.
Anthony Stokes cushions a brilliant pass into the path of Commons but the midfielder cannot get the ball out from under his feet and wins a corner off Mexes. Mulgrew delivers the set piece but it goes wastefully out of play.
GOOD CHANCE FOR MILAN! The Rossoneri are on top in the early stages and Matri pokes a ball through the legs of Ambrose but Birsa cannot quite divert the ball past Forster from a narrow angle.
Milan are hoping for a quick start here and Zaccardo makes a rare gallop forward from right-back. However, his left-footed shot lacks conviction and Forster makes a comfortable stop.
BALOTELLI GOES CLOSE! The Italian international goes close when he connects brilliantly with Birsa's cross and forces Forster into a smart save.
Milan stride forward to launch their first attack on the Celtic goal, but Mexes' ambitious effort balloons high over Forster's goal.
The last time that these two sides squared up in the Champions League was back in the 2007 group stages when a Filippo Inzaghi goal gave Milan a 1-0 victory.
Samaras wins a free kick after just 14 seconds but Commons decides to shoot from fully 40 yards and sends his effort high over the crossbar.
After a handshake between captains Christian Abbiati and Scott Brown, referee Wolfgang Stark blows his whistle to finally get this game underway.
The players emerge from the tunnels to a rapturous reception from both sets of supporters. Milan line up in their traditional red and black jerseys whilst Celtic play in their alternative yellow strip. The Champions League anthem, which always gives me goosebumps, echoes around the sold-out Giuseppe Meazza.
I will keep you up-to-date with all the action from the other match in Group H where Barcelona take on Ajax at the Camp Nou. Incidentally, this is the only group possessing four previous champions.
Celtic are well-known for their famous Champions League upsets and they produced a memorable display last season to defeat Barcelona 2-1. Can they produce another special performance this evening?
Neil Lennon makes only two changes to the side which defeated Hearts 3-1 at the weekend. Charlie Mulgrew is preferred to Joe Ledley whilst Georgios Samaras replaces Dirk Boerrigter in attack.
Massimiliano Allegri makes four changes to the side which snatched a late 2-2 draw against Torino. Kaka and Riccardo Montolivo are sidelined through injury, meaning that Valter Birsa and Antonio Nocerino come into the side. Robinho is replaced by Alessandro Matri whilst Kevin Constant replaces Urby Emanuelson at left-back.
Celtic (4-3-1-2): Forster; Lustig, Van Dijk, Ambrose, Izaguirre; Matthews, Brown, Mulgrew; Samaras; Commons, Stokes.
Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Zaccardo, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Nocerino, De Jong, Muntari; Birsa; Balotelli, Matri.
Without any further ado, here are tonight's lineups...
Milan have met Celtic eight times in European competition, winning four times, drawing three and losing only once. The Rossoneri have never lost to a Scottish opponent at home, posting six victories and one draw.
With Barcelona expected to top Group H, both sides will be keen to get an early three points under their belt in an attempt to reach the knockout stages. Bringing you all the action from the Giuseppe Meazza tonight, my name is Max Bentley.
Both sides had to qualify through the play-offs to reach the group stages with Milan defeating PSV and Celtic claiming a dramatic last-minute aggregate victory over Shakhtar Karagandy.
The Champions League group stages returned with a bang last night as 30 goals flooded in from the eight European contests. Tonight's meeting at the Giuseppe Meazza involves two of the tournament's most decorated club sides as seven-time winners Milan host 1967 victors Celtic.
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