Barcelona strangled by AC Milan in shock defeat

Barcelona

"We hoped we could wear them down. Their first goal was an isolated attack following a shot and a rebound." "It's a bad result but I'm absolutely convinced that we can turn this around in the second leg with the support of our crowd."

ALLEGRI UNMOVED

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was typically unflappable.

"The boys deserved this result. They didn't give anything away at a defensive level and they made the most of the we had," he said in his usual monotone.

"We made some mistakes in the first half but we improved a lot in the second... the tie is very open."

Milan, who failed to win in their previous seven meetings with Barcelona, fired an early warning shot when Muntari went close with a dipping 30-metre volley which flew over the crossbar after five minutes.

El Shaarawy should have done better when he was sent clear by Kevin-Prince Boateng's flicked pass but failed to control the ball as he raced towards goal, allowing Carles Puyol to intercept.

From the corner, Boateng, who played for Ghana at the 2010 World Cup, hooked the ball just wide of the far post, giving Barca another scare.

Barca, who could have had a penalty when Dani Alves' whipped cross clearly hit Philippe Mexes' outstretched arm, took control with their familiar slick passing. But they did not create many openings with Messi repeatedly blocked out by a pack of defenders who hounded him every time he got the ball.

The second half started with more Barcelona possession before Milan struck the first blow. A short free kick was played by Riccardo Montolivo, his low shot struck Jordi Alba, ricocheted against Zapata and fell to Boateng to sweep into the goal.

Barca protested furiously, clearly unsettled and the match degenerated into a niggly affair, with the visitors infuriating the crowd at one point by keeping possession after a drop ball.

... contd.

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