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Late goal denies Barca winning start in Champions League

09-14-2011 11:04 BJT

MADRID, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Central defender Thiago Silva scored a late goal for AC Milan to give his side a 2-2 draw against FC Barcelona in the Camp Nou stadium on Tuesday night.

Silva's goal denied Barcelona a win they just about deserved after Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa began this season's Champions League campaign in the same way they ended last season.

The duo scored the goals to help FC Barcelona come back from the shock of conceding an early goal to beat AC Milan 2-1 in the Camp Nou.

Rodriguez and Villa both scored in the 3-1 win over Manchester United in last season's Champions League final, but were unable to guarantee a winning start to the Catalans' title defense.

After resting key players, such as Andres Iniesta and Leo Messi for last weekend's 2-2 draw away to Real Sociedad, Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola fielded a stronger side against the Italians.

He did, however, decide to start with Carles Puyol, who is recovering from a long term muscle injury, on the bench and continue with Sergio Busquets in central defense.

AC Milan had traveled to Barcelona without former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovich, who didn't travel because of a groin strain on, while former Real Madrid winger Robinho also missed the game through injury.

Milan had two other former Barcelona players, Mark Van Bommel and Gianlucca Zambrotta in their side and the Italians took a shock early lead thanks to Brazilian striker Alexander Pato who scored after just 25 seconds with the fifth fastest goal in the history of the competition.

The goal clearly shocked Barcelona, who looked insecure in defense and for once lacked their usual fluidity in midfield. Milan meanwhile renounced the ball after the goal and were content to sit deep and look to hit Barca on the break, where Pato's pace was causing constant problems to the Catalan defense.

Messi hit the post with a free kick after 20 minutes, but 15 minutes later he set Pedro Rodriguez up for the equalizing goal. Messi crossed from the left wing and Pedro arrived at the far post to make it 1-1.

Barcelona's celebrations were cut short three minutes later when Iniesta had to leave the pitch with a muscle injury to be replaced by Cesc Fabrigas.

Xavi Hernandez drew a fine save from Milan keeper Christian Abbiati just two minutes into the second half with a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area that Abbiati pushed out for a corner.

The veteran keeper was helpless two minutes later when Villa curled home a magnificent free kick following a foul on Busquets. The ball curled over the wall and entered the goal close to the top corner.

Neither side was playing at its best, but Barcelona were looking more comfortable as time progressed and they looked tighter in defense when Puyol came into the game midway through the half with Busquets moving into midfield.

Barcelona didn't look troubled in the second half, but deep into injury time Milan defender Thiago Silva powered home a header from a corner to give his side a draw and stun the fans in the Camp Nou stadium.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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