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Rediff.com  » Sports » Champions League: Milan, Barca draw leaves tie well poised

Champions League: Milan, Barca draw leaves tie well poised

Last updated on: March 29, 2012 10:20 IST

Champions League: Milan, Barca draw leaves tie well poised

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Holders Barcelona were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at AC Milan in their Champions League quarter-final first leg as the attacking prowess of Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was all but nullified on Wednesday.

Milan succeeded where nine teams before them had failed by preventing Messi from scoring in a game which started brightly but was ultimately a disappointment.

However, the stalemate sets up an intriguing second leg at the Nou Camp next Tuesday when a scoring draw for seven-times European champions Milan would put them through.

Messi had a 17th-minute effort ruled out for offside and dominant Barca had a strong shout for a penalty when Alexis Sanchez went down but Milan had chances too, Robinho hooking over early on and Ibrahimovic wasting an excellent position.

Argentine world player of the year Messi was agonisingly close to snatching a late win for the Spaniards when he was blocked at close-range by goalkeeper Christian Abbiati, with Massimo Ambrosini blocking Tello's effort from the rebound.


Image: Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts
Photographs: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

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Ibrahimovic was the guilty party

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Ambrosini typified the defiant attitude of the Italian champions when, having blocked Tello's effort, he celebrated as if he had scored a championship-winning goal.

"We did what we had to do in attack and defence, it's a good result against Barcelona," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri told reporters.

"We had some good chances which we didn't take early on and after 25 minutes, Barcelona began playing well."

Messi had scored 21 goals in his last nine outings for club and country, his extraordinary run including a five-goal haul, one of four goals and two hat-tricks, He has netted a Spanish record of 55 in all competitions this season.

Had he scored on Wednesday, the 24-year-old would have taken his Champions League tally to 13 for the season, a new record.

There was, though, no way through a Milan defence superbly held together by Philippe Mexes and 36-year-old Alessandro Nesta, standing in for the injured Thiago Silva.

Swede Ibrahimovic was the guilty party shortly afterwards when Clarence Seedorf, a surprise inclusion by Allegri, rolled the ball into this path but the former Barca frontman shot weakly at Victor Valdes.

Allegri had promised that his team would attack Barcelona and not use spoiling tactics, but that is exactly what they did for most of the second half and some of the first.


Image: AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts during their UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg soccer match against Barcelona at the San Siro stadium in Milan
Photographs: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

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Clinical Bayern Munich in charge

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Bayern Munich took a huge step towards the Champions League semi-finals when goals by Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben gave them a clinical 2-0 win at Olympique Marseille on Wednesday in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

Gomez gave Bayern the lead just before halftime when Robben's defence-splitting pass sent him clear and his shot beat Elinton Andrade who should have done better.

Bayern Munich took a huge step towards the Champions League semi-finals when goals by Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben gave them a clinical 2-0 win at Olympique Marseille on Wednesday in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

Gomez gave Bayern the lead just before halftime when Robben's defence-splitting pass sent him clear and his shot beat Elinton Andrade who should have done better.  


Image: Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez (C) celebrates with team mate after scoring a goal against Olympique Marseille during their quarter-final first leg at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille
Photographs: Philippe Laurenson/Reuters

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Arjen Robben doubled Bayern's lead

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The Bundesliga side, whose stadium will stage the final, dominated the second half and Robben doubled their lead after 69 minutes when he played a neat one-two in the box with Thomas Mueller before cooly slotting the ball past Andrade.

Marseille had a few early chances, notably when Rod Fanni's header was parried by Manuel Neuer into the path of Loic Remy only for the France striker to lash his close-range shot wide.

Marseille, the 1993 champions, had a chance to level early in the second half when Remy took advantage of some sloppy defending to flick the ball past Jerome Boateng but his shot was blocked by Neuer.

Bayern earned breathing space with Robben's second goal and after that were content to run down the clock.



Image: Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich celebrates after scoring against Olympique Marseille during their Champions League quarter-final first leg soccer match at Velodrome Stadium in Marseille
Photographs: Robert Pratta/Reuters

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