View Count: 84 |  Publish Date: February 21, 2013
AC Milan’s Defense Blunts Barcelona in 2-0 Champions League Win
By Bob Bensch - 2013-02-20T23:55:21Z
AC Milan’s defensive effort carriedthe Italian team to a surprise 2-0 victory against Barcelona intheir Champions League soccer round-of-16 opener.
Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari scored in thesecond half at the San Siro stadium in Milan last night as thehome team ended a seven-match winless run against Barcelona inEuropean soccer’s elite club competition.
Barcelona, which leads Spain’s La Liga by 12 points andentered the match as the bookmakers’ favorite to win its fourthChampions League title in eight seasons, was limited to twoshots on target even though it had two-thirds of the possession.
“We played as we had to,” Milan captain Massimo Ambrosinisaid on the website of tournament organizer UEFA. “MaybeBarcelona played more football than us, but we didn’t give themthe space to strike. This victory is a real boost for us.”
Also last night, Jermaine Jones scored just before halftimeto give Schalke a 1-1 draw at Galatasaray, which went aheadthrough Burak Yilmaz’s seventh goal of the competition. Schalkeand Barcelona host the return matches March 12, with the winnersof the two-game series advancing to the quarterfinals.
“We produced a focused performance,” Schalke midfielderJulian Draxler, whose team had lost five of its past eightmatches, said on UEFA’s website. “We have experienced someproblems in the past few weeks, but with today’s performance wecan go into the return leg with some confidence.”
The round of 16 resumes March 5 with Manchester United andReal Madrid tied 1-1 and Dortmund tied 2-2 with ShakhtarDonetsk. Juventus leads Celtic 3-0, Paris Saint-Germain has a2-1 advantage against Valencia, Porto leads Malaga 1-0, andBayern Munich is 3-1 up on Arsenal in the other matchups, whichwill be played March 6 and 13. Five Shots
The first half in Milan produced a combined five shotattempts, with Barcelona putting its only two on target. Milan’sbest chance came when Stephan El Shaaraway broke down the leftonly to be let down by a heavy touch with Carles Puyol clearingthe ball.
Seven-time European champion Milan took the lead 12 minutesinto the second half as Riccardo Montolivo’s long shot hit aBarcelona player and then appeared to strike Cristian Zapata’sarm at the edge of the area. The ball fell to Boateng, whoturned and shot past Victor Valdes as Barcelona players appealedfor a handball.
Andres Iniesta shot wide for Barcelona in the 76th minutebefore fellow midfielder Xavi Hernandez drove a free kick overthe crossbar moments later.
Milan clinched the victory with nine minutes left assubstitute M’Baye Niang passed in the area to El Shaaraway, whoteed up the onrushing Muntari to hit a volley past Valdes. No Excuses
“It’s a really bad result,” Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said on UEFA’s website. “We played badly and can’t makeexcuses. When they scored the first we lost control.”
The defeat was Barcelona’s first by more than one goal inthe Champions League since losing 3-1 to Inter Milan at the SanSiro in the 2010 semifinals, according to Infostrada Sports.
“When you’re not on your game this happens,” Iniestasaid. “It is a poor result. It will be a different story at ourstadium. From the very first minute at the Camp Nou we’ll begoing for it.”
Galatasaray took a 12th-minute lead in Turkey as SelcukInan passed to Yilmaz, who flicked the ball over a defender andfired a shot into the roof of the net to tie Real Madrid’sCristiano Ronaldo with a competition-leading seven goals.
Galatasaray’s Hamit Altintop hit the crossbar off therebound after Didier Drogba’s shot was saved by Timo Hildebrandin the 18th minute.
Schalke then tied the score on the stroke of halftime whenJefferson Farfan ran onto a pass from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar downthe right side and crossed for Jones to shoot past FernandoMuslera from inside the area.
“The formula for victory is very simple, we need to scoreand win,” Galatasaray midfielder Nordin Amrabat said of thesecond match. “It won’t be an easy task.”
To contact the reporter on this story:Bob Bensch in London at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:Christopher Elser at

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 ball   Barcelona   Champions League   Galatasaray   half   lead   match   Milan   minute   net   past   played   Schalke   score   shot   tie   victory   win 
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