Barcelona 2-2 AC Milan: Thiago Silva's last-gasp strike salvages point for Italians
The Brazilian defender pops up with a stoppage-time header to claim a shock draw for the Serie A title holders
By Jonathan Mitchell
AC Milan shocked Champions League holders Barcelona by taking a point home from Camp Nou on Tuesday night after securing a surprise 2-2 draw in the sides’ opening game in Group H.
Pedro and David Villa were the host's heroes as they netted a goal either side of the half-time break to cancel out Alexandre Pato's first-minute opener.
But, in the third minute of stoppage time, Thiago Silva popped up inside the box to meet Clarence Seedorf's corner with a powerful header which flew into the net to snatch a share of the spoils.The match began in absolutely extraordinary fashion when, against all expectations, AC Milan surged into a 1-0 lead with just 24 seconds on the clock.
Pato picked the ball up virtually from kick-off, knocked it through the centre of the Barcelona defence and accelerated directly towards goal, leaving Sergio Busquets trailing in his wake before slotting a cool finish under the advancing Victor Valdes.
The early goal was exactly what the doctor ordered in terms of Massimiliano Allegri’s tactical plan, as it allowed his team to sit deep, defend in numbers and attempt to utilise Pato’s pace on the counter attack.
For a 20-minute spell following the goal, the visitors defended doggedly while testing the Barcelona rearguard, particularly the nervy Busquets, with a handful of lightning counterattacks.
Meanwhile, back at the other end, their luck was also holding out as Lionel Messi forced at least four decent saves from Christian Abbiati before striking the outside of post with a free-kick from 25 yards.
However, as the half wore on, the game was almost exclusively played in the Milan half of the field, and, despite their organised and disciplined defending, one moment of magic from Messi in the 35th minute proved their undoing.
The Argentine flicked the ball between Alessandro Nesta and Ignazio Abate and darted through the gap between the full-back and his central defender. He then proceeded to shrug off Abate’s weak challenge and prodded the ball across the face of goal to gift Pedro the easiest of tap-ins.
Milan’s stubborn resistance was breached for a second time five minutes after the restart, and this time there was little anyone in the Rossoneri ranks could do to prevent it as Villa curled a sublime free-kick into Abbiati’s top right-hand corner.
The rest of the second period played out in a predictable fashion, with Barcelona in complete control of possession, but lacking penetration in the final third as Milan defended doggedly until the last.
That was, however, until, against all odds, Thiago Silva powered home a bullet header in the third minute of stoppage time to steal a point.
Matchday two sees the Catalan club travel to Belarus to meet BATE Borisov, while Milan host Viktoria Plzen at San Siro, with the fixtures to be played on 28 September.
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