AC Milan - FC Barcelona: Magic needed at the Camp Nou (2-0)
Two second half goals from Boateng and Muntari have left Barça with a mountain to climb in the second leg
The clash of titans at the San Siro has ended with AC Milan celebrating their 2-0 win over FC Barcelona as if they had won the title. First a goal from Boateng, following a blatantly obvious handball by Zapata, and then another from Muntari stunned a Barça side that failed to perform when it mattered most. The FCB forwards failed to create a single clear-cut opportunity and in defence allowed Milan to take practically the only two real chances they had in the entire game. In a nutshell, things went exactly to plan for Allegri and his team.
But the Camp Nou is the Camp Nou. And on March 12, FC Barcelona will be looking for yet another magnificent night in front of their own fans to turn around a tie that currently sees them in a very tricky situation indeed.
First half without chances
The early stages of the game were reminiscent of the 0-0 draw a year ago. AC Milan’s priority was keeping things tight at the back and they stubbornly refused to make things easy for FC Barcelona, who may have been able to pass the ball around the first three quarters of the park, but could find absolutely no way through the ten-man defence positioned in front of them. With Milan doing what they had to do, and doing it with alarming effectiveness, the first half ended without either side having come particularly close to breaking a very tight deadlock.
The nearest the game came to seeing a goal was when Boateng met the ball from a corner, but he sent the ball well wide, and as the teams went in at half time, everything was still to play for at the San Siro.
Boateng edges Milan ahead
There no major changes after the break. Barça still had the possession, but still couldn’t find a way through. And AC Milan continued focusing on defence until they finally got their first real chance of the match - and turned into a goal. But a mightily controversial goal it was, for Zapata quite clearly struck the balls with his hands before it fell at the feet of Boateng, who struck home amidst protests from the Barça players. But the referee was hearing none of it, and merely booked Piqué for protesting.
Muntari makes it two
Having gone a goal down, Barça pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but this just wasn’t going to be their night. In their second encroachment on the FCB goal, the Italians made it two, with Muntari ultimately taking advantage of a disorientated Barça defence to slam the ball home. In the final minutes, with Puyol off with a head injury, Barça threw everything they had at their hosts, and even took the gamble of sending Piqué up to play in attack. But it wasn’t to be. Instead, it all remains to be decided at the Camp Nou, where the very best of Barça’s magic will be required in order to keep the European dream alive.