AC Milan vs. Barcelona: Final score 1-1, No victor to be found at the San Siro

Claudio Villa

First-half goals from Robinho and Lionel Messi were all that the two teams could produce as wasted chances all around forced Milan and Barcelona to settle for a draw.

AC Milan took an early lead thanks to Robinho, but Lionel Messi answered later in the first half with some of his usual brilliance, forcing a sharing of the points at the San Siro. The win leaves Barcelona at the top of Group H, two points clear of Milan.

More from our team blogsFC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes

AC Milan were a team possessed from the opening whistle. Like a dog that just found a fresh haunch of meat they were all over Barcelona, hammering the Blaugrana over and over again down the left wing through Kaka and Robinho.

In the seventh minute Milan came ever so close to taking the lead when Robinho found Sully Muntari with a quick through ball that the midfielder buried past Victor Valdés. Unfortunately for Milan, Muntari was a half-yard offside and the goal was waved off.

Less than two minutes later not even the linesman's flag could save Barca from an early deficit.

More from our team blogsAC Milan blog AC Milan Offside

Robinho's run in to the attacking third got the Barca defense all twisted around as Javier Mascherano ended up way out of position as Robinho moved the ball left to Kaka. Kaka wasted little time returning the pass to Robinho who'd blown past Mascherano into the space created by the poor positioning from the defender and slotted a low shot past Valdés as he avoided a desperate challenge from Sergio Busquets.

With the lead secured, Milan backed off slightly and settled into a wonderfully organized and highly congested formation, daring Barcelona to find a way to pass through them. Milan seemed content to give Barca the wings, but while it's always dangerous to challenge a team with the passing skills of Barca to break you down, it certainly worked well until one mistake caused everything to unravel.

Cristián Zapata's giveaway near midfield in the 23rd minute allowed Barcelona to counter quickly with Milan's formation spread out and pushing forward. Andrés Iniesta picked up the ball and made the run centrally before passing right to Lionel Messi. Kevin Constant somehow lost one of the world's most dangerous players and as Messi cut inside with all his momentum carrying him right, he sent a left-footed shot back across his body and past Marco Ameila.

The goal not only evened the match at 1-1, it caused that congested defensive swarm in front of the Milan attacking third to dissipate, opening up far more space for Barca to operate in.

In the 28th minute, Philippe Mexès missed a golden opportunity on a corner as again Piqué and Mascherano were disorganized and Valdés got himself caught in no man's land. Mexés couldn't take advantage, sending his header off target.

Whatever Gerardo Martino said during the break worked as Barcelona came out in the second half determined to impose their will and style on Milan, rather than allowing the Italian side to dictate the flow and pace of the match. Yet it was Milan who got the first great chance that led to arguably one of the strangest decisions a striker has ever made.

Robinho cut through the Barca defense on a counter and as a perfectly crossed ball found its way into his path, the striker inexplicably stepped over the ball and left it for a nonexistent teammate at the far post. Whether Robinho misplayed the ball or thought he had help is up for the debate, but it was a sure goal chance missed.

Barca quickly followed up with a missed chance of their own after Xavi hit Iniesta in stride at the top of the Milan box, but the midfielder's first touch wasn't clean and he could only poke the ball forward with his toe. The lack of velocity on the shot gave Amelia the time he needed to get down and block the attempt.

In the end, neither side could break the deadlock and the match ended with the two sides each earning a point.

AC Milan: Amelia, Abate, Muntari, Zapata, Mexès, Constant, Montolivo, Muntari, de Jong, Birsa (Poli 80'), Kaká (Emanuelson 70'), Robinho (Balotelli 64')

Goals: Robinho (9')

Barcelona: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Sanchez (Fábregas 74'), Neymar (Pedro 80'), Messi

Goals: Messi (23')

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