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UEFA Champions League

  • December 6, 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Eden Aréna, Praha
  • Referee: I. Vad II
  • • Attendance: 19854
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Viktoria Plzen 2-2 AC Milan: Gallant fightback from hosts clinches impressive point after Pato and Robinho had given Italians the lead

Viktoria Plzen 2-2 AC Milan: Gallant fightback from hosts clinches impressive point after Pato and Robinho had given Italians the lead

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Last-gasp goals from Bystron and Duris secure a shock draw for the Czech champions as they hold on to third place in Group H and a spot in the Europa League

Viktoria Plzen claimed third place Champions League Group H and a spot in the Europa League after securing a dramatic 2-2 draw with AC Milan on Tuesday night.

Late, late goals from David Bystron and Michal Duris cancelled out Alexandre Pato and Robinho's earlier strikes as the hosts completed a stunning late comeback in Prague.

With their progression already certain, Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri took the opportunity to rest players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, but their makeshift defence was put to the test in the early stages as the hosts made an energetic start. But despite their hunger and drive, Viktoria Plzen struggled to find the necessary quality in the final third. 

In fact, it took until the 17th minute before they managed a shot on goal. However, it was almost worth the wait as Vaclav Pilar met Pavel Horvath’s corner with a stunning, side-scissors volley which flashed narrowly over the crossbar.

While the Italians dominated possession, they struggled to break down the Czech champions’ rearguard action, with long-range efforts from Mattia De Sciglio and Seedorf, both of which failed to hit the target, all they had to show for their efforts. 

For their limited possession – 38 per cent to Milan’s 62 at the break – Pavel Vrba’s side were looking threatening as they began to up the ante in the final 10 minutes of the first half by allowing Milan to push forward, before winning the ball and attempting to strike with lightning counterattacks.

Yet, despite rampaging raids that eventually ended with Frantisek Rajtoral, Milan Petrzela and Pilar all presented with reasonable openings, their finishing wasn’t up to the standard required in Europe’s premier club competition as they all fired wide or weakly at Marco Amelia in the Milan goal.

The agony at failing to convert was compounded when Milan taught them a lesson in taking your chances by scoring twice in the first three minutes of the second half.

First, in the 47th minute, Pato seized on Marian Cisovsky’s failure to deal with Robinho’s chest down from a diagonal pass from Massimo Ambrosini, and casually rounded the exposed Marek Cech before slotting into an empty net.

Then, less than 60 second later, Cisovsky again blundered by heading a Taye Taiwo clearance down towards his own goal, which Robinho latched onto before playing a quick one-two with Pato and slamming his fellow Brazilian’s lay off into the roof the net to double his side’s advantage.

While Viktoria Plzen’s place in the Europa League still looked safe due to the fact BATE Borisov were losing against Barcelona, they refused to give up in their search for goals.

And their pressure finally paid off with just one minute remaining when central defender Bystron inexplicably popped up in the box to tap home Marek Bakos’ square ball.

Then, in a stunning climax to a pulsating second period, substitute Duris fired home from close range after a neat pass from Cisovksy, who went some way toward redeeming himself for his earlier errors, in the third minute of added on time.

The Italians now look forward to the draw for the next phase on December 16 when they will discover who they will face in the round of 16. Meanwhile, Viktoria Plzen will find out their opponents in the Round of 32 of the Europa League on the same day.

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