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UEFA Champions League
29 March 2012
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: J. Eriksson
• Attendance: 76169
Last kick of the game comes from a free kick, but it proves fruitless as both AC Milan and Barcelona battle to a 0-0 draw at San Siro, leaving the quarter-final tie at Camp Nou finely poised. Although lacking in goalmouth opportunism, it has been one of the most engrossing matches I've seen in a long time. I enjoyed every minute of it and I hope you all did too at home! That's all from me folks, I've been Livio Caferoglu and I wish you all a very pleasant evening!
90' + 3'
Two minutes have been played, but the best Barca can create is a speculative drive from Xavi in some space, but it goes well wide of Abbiati's net.
@rashad_21 on Twitter is curious: "It's been said before but WHERE does Guardiola find youngsters like Tello? The boy's a genius. #goodeye" - if only we knew Rashad, if only... We're in stoppage time now.
Nocerino is calling for a penalty as Pique ushers him to the ground in the box, but the referee is not interested! Also fascinating to see Antonini clench his fist in the air as if his team won the game! Brilliant display of passion.
EPIC DEFENDING!!! Messi charges into the Milan box with great purpose and powers a clean strike at Abbiati, who has to dive to his right. However, the rebound almost falls to Tello down the left, but Antonini AGAIN puts in a matchsaving, last-gasp tackle to deny the young Spaniard from netting the winner!
Not much to report in terms of football, but more indiscipline! Ambrosini is strong in trying to win the ball off Busquets, but a little too strongly it must be said! He definitely got off lightly there.
Puyol is one booking away from a suspension in Europe now as he fouls El Shaarawy near the halfway line. He is now walking on a tightrope!
As more Milan jeering can be heard while Barca play the ball about with little purpose on the edge of the area, here's more from our man in the know, Sergio Stanco: "Milan fans greeted Alessandro Nesta with a standing ovation when he left the field. He made his return from a knee injury tonight."
Abbiati displays some good, alert goalkeeping as Tello's onrushing touch into the box is well anticipated by the veteran.
Looks like both teams are to settle for the goalless draw.. or will they? Anyway, Messi is flagged for offside from Alves' raking, cross-field pass.
TWO DECENT CHANCES FOR BARCA! Tello's delicious lay-off finds Messi, but he sees his volleyed strike deflect just over the bar! The succeeding corner is curled in with some venom, but Puyol's header whistles inches wide!
While Pedro comes on for Alexis, let me quickly refresh you all with some Twitter updates! It turns out @woodstome is in fact a West Ham supporter, not a Barca one! And @rishad_21, @lukateng and @palvoriserii, I'm glad you're enjoying our coverage! Thanks for all your input guys.
Nesta's game is up, and is replaced by Mesbah. Milan's defence should look something like this now if I'm not mistaken, from right-to-left: Antonini, Mexes, Bonera, Mesbah.
TELLO!!! The young attacker finds the ball at his feet in the box with Bonera bearing down on him, but again the stopper performs admirably by forcing him to shoot into side-netting! Some changes for Milan coming up, which I will notify you all of shortly!
Although we have seen not much in terms of creativity thus far from the youngster, El Shaarawy has definitely exerted more of an influence on the match than the hugely disappointing Robinho with his hardworking approach and continuous runs into the channels.
Nocerino fails to grasp the fundamental rule of beating the first man! Ibra holds the ball up well from Emanuelson's short pass into feet, but the midfielder looks lost for ideas as his shot-cum-cross is shut down by Puyol.
Yellow Card Massimo Ambrosini
Ibrahimovic does well to overcome Puyol on the edge of the box, but his drilled cross only rolls into Valdes' arms from a tight angle. Ambrosini is the next in the ref's book, hauling down Xavi.
A big call from Guardiola to bring off a trusted disciple in Iniesta. However, he simply has not made enough of a lasting impact on the game, and Tello should provide more of a youthful impetus in attack.
Emanuelson is now on the pitch in the place of Boateng, as he looks to make an instant impact in the box! However, it's an awful first touch and the chance goes begging as Pique robs him at a crucial moment. Free kick to Barca near the centre circle.
Bonera's impressive season only continues to get better. Messi picks the ball up from the right wing and travels with it all the way to the other side, but the Italian defender forces him into a dead end and a corner is eventually awarded to Barca.
Some hesitant play between Barcelona defenders there as the ball is passed back to Valdes, who is under pressure from onrushing Milanese attackers. Fortunately for him, he clears his lines in time.
El Shaarawy whips in a ball into the Barca box, but it's far too high for a team-mate to get onto the end of. In other matters, Cristian Tello is set to make an appearance off the bench!
Yellow Card Seydou Keita
Despite Barca nipping in, Ambrosini, looking like a warrior, powers through to win the ball back for Milan. Keita, however, tries to regain possession, but he ends up fouling Ambrosini. Yellow card warranted there.
Back to the action, and Messi sees his free kick attempt soar over the bar. Milan are back with the ball, but are looking uncomfortable in their own half!
Before this free kick is taken, thanks to @nikhilp12 for your tweet. Also @sahiyaro feels technology should be implemented to aid referees, following the poor decision to not award Alexis a penalty, while @amritha wants to see Cesc Fabregas come on!
Yellow Card Alessandro Nesta
This one is really hotting up now as Ibra is dispossessed by Xavi near Barca's goal and now THEY hit back on the counter! Nesta stops Messi in his tracks with a strong challenge and it's a free kick to the Blaugrana on the edge of the box. There was no way the defender was letting the forward through!
Meanwhile, Boateng upends Dani Alves and gives a free-kick to Barca. However, the Ghanaian launches a break and finds Nocerino in the box, but his cross comes off Puyol and off for a throw!
@murtazas_94 is also in my good books tonight: "Awesome commentary bro..you're doing it right!!" - thank you very much for your kind words!
The tackles are flying in now - Keita goes straight through Nocerino, although in hindsight it did not seem as bad as it looked. Still, throw-in to the Rossoneri but Ibra is again offside from Boateng's pass.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Messi fouls Seedorf with a late challenge, much to the bemusement of the crowd! However, all is forgiven as both players exchange handshakes. How nice to see!
Milan try to play Ibra in, but he is JUST offside as Seedorf looks to lob the ball over Barca's defenders. Meanwhile, fans favourite El Shaarawy comes on to replace the under-par Robinho!
Here's some more insight from our man at San Siro, Sergio Stanco: "Allegri said before the match that Milan struggle to defend too close to their goal and he was right, but they are doing it well so far. However, the poor performances of Ibra and Robinho are not helping the team at all. Milan suffered so much at one point that the fans wanted the first half finished ASAP."
Quiet start to the half, as both teams remain patient in their respective searches for the opening goal. However, Alves charges into Milan's half after dispossessing Robinho!
Out of absolutely nowhere, Iniesta attacks the space on the edge of the box, but his snapshot goes just wide of the target! Abbiati looked to have had it covered though.
The second half is now underway! Continue to tweet me your opinions on the match, I will do my utmost to post them!
... Okay, maybe time for just one more, you guys are fantastic! @AhmedRWadwan says: "I'm a milan fan and unless we see a great substitution from Allegri the game will be in barca's favour. Perhaps Maxi lopez?" - As dominant as Barca have been, you cannot help but praise Milan's dogged persistance. Lopez could well be an option if Robinho still flatters to deceive after the break.
To cap off my half-time round-up, here's an awfully kind tweet from @danielayala: "I just found your live commentary on Goal.com. Great job!" - Thank you very much and I hope you enjoy the second half with us!
@stevecaresx, however, has another theory on the encounter: "Did anyone notice that the San siro is slippery? Barcelona are finding it difficult." - Interesting point, Dani Alves being the main culprit. Maybe his boots just aren't up to scratch tonight!
@justmessi is next to air his thoughts on the game: "Great match going on..... many chances were created, hope to see goals in second half." - I wholeheartedly agree my friend!
Meanwhile, fellow Goal.com match reporter and all-round good guy Tom Woods (@woodstome) has this to say: "Enjoying the Milan fans whistling when Barca have the ball. What do they expect them to do about it?" - A Barca fan I suspect...
@rajstha on Twitter sent me his prediction on the match before kick-off - a 2-2 draw! As great as it would be, it's unlikely this one has four goals in it with only the second half left!
And bang on 45 minutes, the first half comes to an abrupt end in the midst of a Barcelona passing triangle! Flood me with all of your thoughts on the match @livmc while it's quiet guys and gals!
It's Xavi's turn to crack an effort at goal! Alexis tees up the midfielder on the edge of the box as his strike goes just over the bar. You can never underestimate the little man!
Again the hosts try to launch a counterattack, but Valdes is once more equal to it. Seedorf finds Nocerino down the left, and the Italian fizzes the ball into Ibra, who can't control properly. Nonetheless, Robinho lays it off to the Dutchman, but to no avail!
Alves is found down the right and floats a half-volleyed cross into the box, but Iniesta sees his strike go wide of the target as he fails to hit the ball cleanly.
The Rossoneri attempt a quick-fire break, but it ends up in the hands of Valdes as Seedorf can't quite make the right contact on his volleyed attempt with a cross across the face of goal.
Nesta once more at his fabulous as best, as he stops Alexis at the crucial moment on the edge of the box. The Chilean is convinced the defender took him out illegally, but the ref is having none of it.
FANTASTICO!!! Simply magnificent defending from Antonini, who eventually catches up with Alexis, who is through on goal, and puts in a superb blocking tackle to deny the Chilean from hitting the target.
The ball is zipped from left to right of Milan's box, as Messi and Alves exchange crosses with eachother. Again, Abbiati gathers the ball comfortably.
Milan fans are furious as Boateng is penalised for a seemingly fair attempt to win the ball off Xavi.
30 goalless minutes so far at San Siro.. AND JUST AS I SAY THAT, Iniesta's defence-splitting ball into Alexis is flicked onto Alves, but Nesta again puts in a vital block to see the ball descend into Abbiati's hands. The incoming stopper has been sensational so far in keeping Milan's defence in check!
Fantastic awareness from Puyol, who intercepts Robinho's tasty cross with his head before the ball reaches Ibra. Boateng receives the rebound, but he fires his volley well over as he appeared to have controlled with his arm!
Well played once more from Abbiati, as Sanchez whips a floating ball into the danger zone, and the shot stopper comes out to collect with conviction.
Barca are making winning back possession look like a near-on impossible task! However, Antonini does near the corner flag and the hosts look to start an attack from deep.
Just brilliant. An outstanding passing move from Barca sees the ball somehow wriggled into Xavi inside the box, but Abbiati does well to dive to his right and ensure danger is eventually averted! How do they do it?
And so it's back to the slow-paced, rhythmic vibes of Barca... However, Milan are trying their best to put pressure on their opponents, amid boos ringing round the stadium!
Yellow Card C. Seedorf
First yellow card of the game goes to Seedorf, who cynically leaves his leg into Xavi!
Despite not having control of the match, it's Milan who have had the best of the chances so far! Their fans applaud their team for their encouraging efforts early on; a wonderful display of appreciation it has to be said!
CLOSE FROM IBRAAA!!!! A move started by the power of Ambrosini in the middle of the park ends up with Seedorf, who puts the gangly Swede through, but surprisingly his close-range finish is timid and is easily saved by Valdes!
Mascherano seems to climb all over Boateng as Milan win a free kick! Not sure what the Argentine is trying to get at there.
GOOOOAAA... oh wait, it's been chalked off for offside! Messi puts the ball in the net from Dani Alves' cross, but the original pass into the feet of the full-back was read by the Milan backline.
BARCA ARE FURIOUS!! The men in blue and red flurry in numbers to the referee. A clever free-kick is worked into the path of Alexis Sanchez, and Abbiati brings him down! A stonewaller in my book, but the official has other ideas.
Ambrosini is the latest to express his frustration at Barca's tiki-taka football in and around Milan's box, as he slides straight into Messi. Free kick to the Spaniards in a dangerous position!
No change here as the visitors continue to ping the ball around in the search of an opening. However, Seedorf says enough is enough and eventually puts the ball out of Alves' reach for a throw-in.
Barca are now starting to take a foothold on the game, masterminded by the brilliance of Xavi and Iniesta in the final-third, and Alves down the right flank. Their game plan is simple - get the ball to Messi!
ABBIATI'S A LUCKY BOY!! Barca win the ball back in an instant as Messi this time finds Xavi in the box, but despite his low shot going straight at the Milan goalkeeper, he spills the ball in front of Dani Alves, and the Brazilian cannot put the rebound over the line!
Oooo... Seedorf almost plays in Ibrahimovic with a delightful through ball, but his attempt is cleared away. Meanwhile, Messi tries to slip through Xavi, but Milan manage to get the ball away.
Frantic start to tonight's encounter, as the ball is pinged end-to-end! Milan currently seek to retain possession, but uncharacteristically from Seedorf, he loses the ball in midfield.
Messi slips as he proceeds to shoot the ball, and is eventually ruled offside as Keita tries to sneak in from behind!
AGAIN! Messi is sending warning signs early on as Nesta's long leg brings down the Argentine near Milan's D and earns his team a free kick. What can the little magician conjure up?
Barcelona hit back as Messi beats Mexes on the edge of the box, but he is perplexed as he sees his drilled low cross go out for a throw-in, with none of his team-mates ready to meet the ball.
INCREDIBILE!!!! Robinho hangs his head in shame as the ball drops kindly to him in the box with just Valdes in front of him, but he somehow skies over the bar with the goal at his mercy! Should've been 1-0 to the hosts.
Kevin-Prince Boateng is penalised for an offside call, as Luca Antonini's set-piece comes too early. Later, he sees a snapshot saved by Victor Valdes.
The first free kick is won by Clarence Seedorf, who is felled to the ground by Javier Mascherano on the halfway line.
And the match is underway with Barcelona going from left to right. AC Milan, wearing their white away strip despite being at home, go in the opposite direction.
The players are out and ready to kick the game off, as they take up their positions on the pitch! Messi stands on the ball with the referee's whistle set to be blown imminently.
Here's what Goal.com Italy's Sergio Stanco has to say straight from San Siro: "Before the match, the screen was showing goals of AC Milan's 4-0 win over Barcelona in 1993-94 Champions League final. Rossoneri fans were rejoicing after seeing goals from Massaro, Savicevic and Desailly."
Both are in the form of their lives at the moment, as Milan look likely to net a second consecutive Scudetto triumph, while Barcelona are doing their utmost to catch up with Real Madrid in La Liga - once considered a near-impossible task!
With kick-off now less than 10 minutes away, why not enlighten me with your predictions, key battles and anything else for that matter ahead of the encounter? Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @livmc.
For Barca, coach Pep Guardiola has been forced into making a change at left-back, as Carles Puyol starts in the position once vacated by Eric Abidal, who sadly is to undergo a liver transplant. However, Messi will be flanked by Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez, the latter of whom will know the Milanese only too well from his time in Udine.
The biggest change sees Alessandro Nesta come back into the Milan XI at the expense of the injured Thiago Silva, who'd undoubtedly have started the match if not for his injury against Roma at the weekend! However, it's the veteran who will take to the pitch and all eyes will be on how he deals with the threat of Lionel Messi!
And last but not least, the rulers of Spain: Valdes; Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Puyol; Xavi, Busquets, Keita; Iniesta, Messi, Sanchez. Subs: Pinto, Montoya, Tello, Thiago Alcantara, Marc Muniesa, Fabregas, Pedro.
First up here's how the Italian champions will line up on home soil: Abbiati; Bonera, Mexes, Nesta, Antonini; Nocerino, Ambrosini, Seedorf; Boateng; Ibrahimovic, Robinho. Subs: Amelia, Yepes, Mesbah, Aquilani, Emanuelson, Maxi Lopez, El Shaarawy.
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE commentary of the titanic Champions League quarter-final tussle between AC Milan and Barcelona at San Siro! I'm Livio Caferoglu and I'll be guiding you through all the action tonight as it promises the makings of a European classic! Team news will be up imminently.
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