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UEFA Champions League
November 23, 2011
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: W. Stark
• Attendance: 78927
I'll be on Twitter from 10pm GMT to answer any of your questions from tonight's game, or anything about European football in general. @alexjmott is where to join me.
What an unbelievable game. You have to say Milan played their part, but ultimately, Barcelona have run out 3-2 winners and will therefore go through as group winners. I only hope my commentary showed just how good that game was. I've been Alex Mott, thank you very much.
90' + 4'
And that's it. Wolfgang Stark blows for full time, and Barcelona have won 3-2!
90' + 3'
A pass/shot from Seedorf almost finds Ibrahimovic unmarked inside the box, but a last ditch block from Mascherano saves the day.
90' + 2'
We're two minutes into the four minutes of added on time, and Barcelona are keeing the ball with ease now.
90' + 1'
Jonathan Dos Santos
Milan are piling on the pressure now. A long ball from Thiago Silva is overhit, and Valdes does his best to waste some time.
Some Milan fans are leaving early. Shame on them.
Nocerino, who has been a real bundle of energy since coming on, wins a free kick in the middle of the park for Milan. The resulting ball finds Pato wide left, and he plays a first time cross across goal that is cleared away by Puyol.
Yellow Card Gianluca Zambrotta
The free kick is embarrassingly bad, and Barcelona gain back possession.
Yellow Card Javier Mascherano
A corner from Barcelona fails to clear the first man, and a long ball by Seedorf finds Pato on the halfway line. The Brazilian though is fouled, cleverly, by Mascherano, and Barcelona recollect themselves.
Milan are certainly not going to go without a fight. Another ball from Nocerino finds Ibrahimovic in the left-hand channel, but his square ball across the box is foiled by Puyol, and the ball is cleared.
A wonderful move from Milan almost ends in a goal. A long ball from Nocerino finds Zlatan, who takes the ball from over his shoulder and out towards the touchline. HIs second touch his a fantastic reverse past back to Nocerino, who runs on and attempts a square ball across the box, but Valdes bravely claims.
The game re-starts, and the ball is already up in Milan's right-hand corner. A throw in goes to Messi, who starts on a trademark run, but he his blocked by three Milan players and Abbiati collects the ball.
The match is stopped because of an injury to Busquets, and the whistles ring around the San Siro.
It's another Barcelona free kick. This time, out wide on the left flank after a foul by Van Bommel on Sanchez. The cross is whipped in by Fabregas, but it goes straight into the arms of Abbiati, who has been absolutely fantastic tonight.
Mark van Bommel
A Milan counter-attack is thwarted by Busquets who tackles Pato. The Spaniard then releases Xavi, who fires the ball out wide, but Sanchez's touch lets him down and the ball goes out for a throw in.
Up the other end now, and it's Milan with a free kick. Wide on the left, a ball is blasted in by Seedorf, but his cross is headed out by Keita, who takes a boot in the face for his efforts.
Messi receives the ball from Xavi, and his 20 metre run is ended by Bonera, who fouls just outside the box. The resulting free kick is whipped in, but a fantastic double save from Abbiati denies Sanchez and then Puyol.
Ibrahimovic gets caught on the ball on the halfway line, and Barcelona go on the attack.
Again, it's a magical assist from Messi. This time, he threads the ball through four defenders, and rushing on to the ball is Xavi, who calmly lots the ball past the onrushing Abbiati and into the far corner of the net. 3-2.
GOOOOAAAAALLLLL BARCELONA. And the San Siro is silent once more. This time it's Xavi with the goal!
The goal and the atmosphere don't seem to have bothered Barcelona who are passing the ball like their usual selves.
The San Siro is back at full voice. That was a properly magnificent goal, but can it speed Milan into another gear?
Goal Kevin-Prince Boateng
Stunning from Kevin Prince Boateng. A great, outstretching touch outside the box gathers the ball.He then scissor kicks it past Abidal, who is left for dead. Then 12 yards out, fires the ball first time past Valdes at his near post. Wonderful stuff.
The substitute Pato has his first touch, and it nearly culminates in a goal. A through-ball from Aquilani finds the Brazilian, but where he perhaps should have struck the ball first time, he takes a touch and Mascherano nicks the ball off him.
This half has been all Barcelona so far. This time, Messi goes on a slaloming run between defenders, but his cross from the left is weak, and Abbiati hoovers up the ball.
Fabregas goes on a surging run down the left-hand flank, past Abate, and the Italian international gives away a free kick. The resulting ball finds Puyol, but he slips as he's about to strike it, and Nesta clears.
Junaid Ahmed think the game will finsh as a draw. Well let's find out, because the second half as kicked off.
Debasish Tumung wonders if 'the ref has taken out his cards a bit too soon?' I don't think I could disagree more Debasish. I think Stark has been fairly reserved with his cards.
Ales Novotny thinks it will be Nesta that gets his marching orders. As good a player as he is Ales, I think it's fairly clear that his legs are maybe deserting him. He is a legend though, so let's not get on his back, eh?
Okeke Hilary on Twitter believes Barcelona are going to win this 3-1. Not sure about the scoreline Okeke, but I'd be surprised if there's not a red card in this next 45. I think there's a genuine dislike between these two teams.
Well, what a half of football. Genuinly end-to-end stuff. Barcelona lead 2-1, but Milan have been fantastic. Van Bommel and Seedorf have been superb, but Barcelona have been sumptuous in attack. I'll be back in 15 minutes, but do join me over on Twitter @alexjmott for any comments you may have on the game.
45' + 3'
Yellow Card Éric Abidal
The final play of the half is a free kick to Milan, out wide on the right flank. The bal from Seedorf goes all the way through to Boateng, but he can only find Valdes with his ball back across. And the referee blows for half time.
An Aquilani cross finds Ibrahimoivc deep, his header back across goal finds Seedorf, but the former Dutch international shoots over.
Another free kick to Milan after a foul on Boateng from Puyol. The free kick, just outside the box, fires around like a pin-ball, but Fabreags clears the ball away.
Yellow Card Carles Puyol
The resulting free kick from Seedorf finds Boateng in the box, but instead of taking a touch, he shoots over.
Ibrahimovic works back to steal the ball from Messi. Yes, you heard that correctly: Ibrahimovic works back. And the resulting pass finds Robinho out, wide on the right-hand side. The Brazilian surges forward, but is fouled 35 metres from goal.
Oh, that is quite fantastic from Messi. A trademark run from 30 metres out takes him past Van Bommel, Nesta and Abate before his shot from inside the box is saved by Abbiati. Mesmeric.
XAVI LOSSES THE BALL!!! He gets robbed by Robinho, and his cross finds Boateng at the far post, who fires first time at goal. Valdes though is equal to it and plams the ball away.
And after all that madness, it's probably worth saying thta Nesta is really quite lucky to be still on the pitch. It was his tug that lead to the penalty, and although Wolfgang Stark gave Nesta a yellow, many thought it was probably worthy of a red.
Yellow Card Mark van Bommel
From the restart, Barcelona go straight up the other end and nearly score again. This time Villa fires low from the left-hand side across goal, but Abbiati saves quite miraculously.
Yellow Card Messi
Penalty Goal Messi
AND HE SCORES AT THE SECOND TIME OF ASKING! And it's been allowed. A powerful drive to the left of Abbiati give Barca a 2-1 lead.
It's been disallowed though. The Argentine hesitated in his run-up, and the kick is re-taken.
Yellow/Red Alberto Aquilani
And Messi scores it!
PENALTY TO BARCELONA!
Ibrahimovic nicks the ball off Puyol on the halfway line and runs clear on goal. The referee pulls the Swede up for a foul though.
Seedorf miss cues his clearance on the halfway line, and before he can say "four-time European champion" Messi nips the ball off him, and creates a chance. This time though, the Argentine overhits his cross, and Abbiati gathers.
Yellow Card Alberto Aquilani
There's so much going on in this game, I can hardly type fast enough. This time, a cross from the left-hand side finds Messi inside the six yard box, and he does a Robinho and fires over. Unbelievable stuff.
Assist C. Seedorf
Goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic
GOOOOOAAALLLL Milan! And before I can even tell you what happened to Robinho, Ibrahimovic scores an equaliser.
A wonderfully slotted pass from Seedorf, finds Ibrahimovic inside the box. He shrugs off his marker, and with his first touch, lifts the ball over Valdes and into the far corner to make it 1-1.
OOOOHHHH. What a miss from Robinho!
I have to say, that was a tad harsh on Milan. They were the better of the two sides in the early exchanges, but one magic moment from Messi has completely changes this game. Ballon d'Or anyone?
A beautiful ball from Messi finds Keita inside the 18 yard box; he takes a touch, and with his second, strikes the ball across goal, only for Van Bommel to shin it into his own net.
Own Goal Mark van Bommel
The resulting ball is punted deep into the box, but Ibrahimovic's header is saved by Valdes.
Seedorf, the grand old man of European football, shows Puyol a clean pair of heels on the left hand flank; but the curly-haired defender cleans out the Dutch international at the cost of a free-kick.
Keita goes on a maurading run down the left flank, past Abate. He then squares the ball to Villa, who tries to return the favour, but the pass is cut out by Nesta who hoofs the ball away and into the stands.
That infamous metronomic passing from Barcelona is coming out now. Fabregas to Busquets, to Fabregas to Villa to Messi to Xavi, back to Fabregas to.....ah, Abbiati.
Barcelona have their first effort of the night. Short, sharp midfield play ends up with Villa squaring to Thiago Alcantara on the edge of the box, only for the youngster to fire over.
It's Fabregas who is the furthest forward for Barca, and his harrying puts pressure on Thiago Silva, and he clears long, straight into the arms of Valdes.
Milan win their first corner of the game, but Seedorf's cross is played short, and Abate, who tries to whip the ball in, hits the first man.
Well, unlike the first game, there hasn't been a goal yet. But Boateng does put in a low cross towards Ibrahimovic, but Puyol clears.
Wolfgang Stark, the German official, gets us underway, with AC Milan, in their traditional red and black, kicking from right to left.
The teams are entering the pitch to a huge ovation. Do not go anywhere. Kick off is in less than three minutes.
The last time Barcelona visited the San Siro in 2006, they won 1-0 with a solitary goal from Ludovic Giuly. But of the 12 games these two have completed in over the years, they cannot be seperated: both have won four, drawn four and lost four.
Kick-off is in 10 minutes time, and the atmosphere here at the San Siro is absolutely electric! Don't forget, @alexjmott is the place to go for all the debate on tonight's game.
This match-up tonight has so many sub-plots, it's truly a joy to behold .Of course, there's the opportunity to top the group with a win, which in itself is motivation enough. Then there's the Barcelona collective at Milan: Zambrotta, Van Bommel and Ibrahimovic have all played, at some point in their career, at the Nou Camp. And, if that wasn't enough to whet your appetite, there's the recent furore surrounding Ibrahimovic's recent book. A book in which he claimed Guardiola had "no balls", and that the Barca players "followed the coach like schoolboys".
It really does promise to be a fascinating game tonight. Of course, if Barcelona win, they will be guaranteed to finish in top spot; but if the corresponding game in September is any indicator, it's that you cannot discount Milan. That game finished 2-2, with Pato opening the scoring with the second fastest Champions League goal ever, and were somewhat unlucky to come away with only a point.
Barcelona, with Dani Alves out because of suspension, look to be lining up in a 3-1-3-3: Valdes; Puyol, Mascherano, Abidal; Keita; Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas; Thiago, Villa, Messi.
The line-ups have been announced here at the San Siro, and Barcelona's in particular, looks for very interesting reading. The home team first though, line up as: (4-3-3) Abbiati; Zambrotta, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Abate; Van Bommel, Seedorf, Aquilani; Boateng, Ibrahimovic, Robinho.
As always, if Twitter's your thing, then don't hesitate to contact me @alexjmott. I'll be online all evening to answer any questions you may have on the game, or the Champions League as a whole.
Good evening, and welcome to Goal.com's play-by-play coverage of AC Milan - Barcelona. I'm Alex Mott, and I'll be your reporter tonight, covering everything that goes on at the San Siro, as it happens.
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