The Serie A champions had to settle for an away draw in Champions League Group H after failing to hold on to what appeared to be a comfortable first-half leadBATE Borisov held Italian champions AC Milan to shock 1-1 draw in Group H of the Champions League in Belarus on Tuesday.
Renan Bressan's 55th minute penalty cancelled out Zlatan Ibrahimovic's early opener to ensure that the sides would have to settle for a share of the spoils.
However, the result, which ends Massimiliano Allegri men's run of five consecutive wins in all competitions, still means that BATE's slim hopes of progressing depend on the Viktoria Plzen versus Barcelona result later in the evening.
Milan, who were perhaps given extra motivation by the mystery illness which has laid team-mate Antonio Cassano low, seemed determined to put their stamp on proceedings in the early stages.
Ibrahimovic, in particular, appeared to exude an aura which suggested he had extra purpose, something that is occasionally missing from the languid striker’s game – and which would surface in the second period.
The Swede forced BATE goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor into three smart saves with strikes from distance in the opening 20 minutes. However, the hosts’ 22-year-old custodian could do little to prevent Milan from taking the lead in the 22nd minute.
Ibrahimovic caught defender Marko Simic dwelling on the ball by sliding in to poke the ball to Robinho, who advanced down the right before giving his strike partner a perfect return pass, which he controlled before sweeping past the exposed goalkeeper.
While the Italians were in absolute control, the hosts managed to stage two swift counters, but on both occasions Christian Abbiati managed to thwart lively BATE forward Maksim Skavysh, whose header drew a particularly impressive save.
Milan could and should have doubled their lead six minutes before the break when Robinho latched onto Kevin-Prince Boateng’s defence-splitting through ball, but the Brazilian only managed to crack the ball against the post after rounding Gutor.
The second half saw a complete role reversal, as the home side made much more of a fist of things, while Milan appeared to relax and rest on their laurels.
And after nine minutes of concerted pressure, they were afforded the opportunity to draw level from the penalty spot due to Ignazio Abate’s foul on Artyom Kontsevoi. Renan Bressan assumed responsibility and lashed a low kick past Abbiati’s despairing dive and into the keeper’s right-hand corner to draw his side level.
BATE's enthusiasm and drive ensured that the Serie A side were much less of an attacking force, but they almost grabbed an undeserved lead in the 77th minute. But a combination of first Gutor and then Simic managed to keep out Boateng to secure a precious point.
Matchday five sees Milan host La Liga giants Barcelona at San Siro, while BATE take on Viktoria Plzen in Minsk.