AC Milan 2-3 Barcelona – as it happened¡¿
They’re worse, but still excellent. They win Group Haitch.
Otherwise, I’m off. With a chuckle at Chelsea first, but off now. Thanks all for your company – we’re back with MBM stuff at the weekend, and plenty of other nonsense between now and then. Sweet dreams.
Gosh, some enjoyment; that was a very excellent game. Milan showed admirable testicles to rush Barca in the way that they did, and exposed some defensive weaknesses. The problem, though, is that when the game really matters they retain possession so well that they could have Gus Ceasar and John Terry at centre-back, and it wouldn’t matter. Still, though, they don’t look as good this season, though it’s impossible to back against them, especially in a one-off.
If you’ve not seen the goals, then resolve that immediately – the winner was hand-over-mouth good.
AND THAT’S THAT: AC MILAN 2-3 BARCELONA
90+4 min: Incredible stretch from Busquets, cutting out a right-wing cross that was Pato-bound otherwise.
90+2 min: Messi knocks one in behind Zambrotta for Sanchez, so he’s immediately pulled down, but no one is arsed to issue a second yellow card. They must think he’s doing it deliberately.
90 min: There’ll be fo added minutes. Dos Santos comes on for Thiago.
90 min: These thin Milan stripes are bothering me something fierce.
88 min: Aquilani floats a ball over the top for Seedorf, advancing in off the left, and he volleys a cross that Mascherano does very well to cut out before Zlatan can headbutt it.
86 min: Another foul tackle, Zambrotta, dhalsimming in on Messi and receiving the booking he’d endeavoured to earn but a few moments ago.
84 min: Milan rustle up their first serious attack in a while, Aquilani lanking forward and sliding left to Zambrotta. His cross doesn’t reach Pato in the middle, but it doesn’t matter because he – Zambrotta – was offside in the first instance.
81 min: Sanchez sways past Zambrotta, who reciprocally carves him in half. Puyol then picks up the loose ball and shimmies away from Nocerino, who rugby tackles him. Angry faces are exchanged.
80 min: Fabregas departs doing his best Milan Baros impression, facilitating Pedro’s return from injury – he’s grown a hair and matching bumfluff set since we saw him last.
78 min: Sergio Busquets is down, face buried in grass. “Guardiola called him a street fighter…” says Gerry Armstrong. “…Must’ve been a very quiet street he lived on”. Blam!
Maybe he just had a thing for Chun Li – now there’s an image for you.
76 min: Prince-Boateng overhits a cross to the back post, where the 47 year-old Zambrotta somehow manages to turn up. While Prince-Boateng turns to the crowd and indicates that he’d meant that pass all along, he’s unable to hook it back into the middle.
75 min: Xavi, Fabregas and Sanchez play angles until Bonera gets bored and leaves a foot out, Sanchez gratefully falling over it.
74 min: Emails, then. Then, emails.
73 min: Is van Bommel’s nickname horse?
72 min: Zlatan settled a score or seventeen, catching Puyol in the pus with an arm. Nocerino replaces van Bommel.
69 min: Thiago Silva fells Messi, and waves his arms around. From the free-kick, just by the left corner of the box, Thiago’s superbly curled ball is bundled goalwards by Sanchez. Abbiati is equal to it though, diving low to his right and palming away. Sanchez and Puyol then converged on the loose ball, but the angle was too tight for them to find requisite power and accuracy.
68 min: Sanchez replaces Villa.
66 min: Bonerra replaces Nesta, taking Juice van Bommel’s place in midfield. he goes to centre-back.
63 min: “That was pure football!” “Passing and movement…Oh!”
And they’re right – what a goal that was. Xavi takes the ball from Abidal in his own half and finds Fabregas. He turns and lays off to Messi outside him. About twenty-five yards from goal, he zips a ball that avoids the seventeen pairs of Milan legs blocking its route the the space Xavi now occupies, racing onto the pass, welcoming it into his path, and sticking it into the far corner. Two-three.
60 min: The first non-threatening possession in quite some time, Milan knocking it around at the back for a brief period, before sending the ball downfield. Ibrahimovic then tries to slip a pass through for Zambrotta, which Valdes claims, before managing to slip himself and do some shouting about the ensuing corner. I have, 124% literally, literally no idea what he can possibly have been complaining about. The corner comes to nowt.
59 min: David Villa may be playing badly, but at least he’s given his hair a damn fine half-time seeing-to.
58 min: Milan are playing a 4-3-3 kind of thing at the moment, with Pato flanked by Prince-Boateng on the right and Zlatan on the left. Pato’s pace is beginning to unsettle Barcelona’s defence.
54 min: EQUALISER FOR MILAN!
Just I was about to observe the sole direction in which the traffic was proceeding, Prince-Boateng scores a blinder. Leaping right to control a headed clearance, just outside the box, he followed his control around the outside, beating Abidal with a heel-shuffle before rifling in at the near post. Not great keeping, but a very smart piece of work, that did, of course, elicit predictable narcissism.
52 min: Xavi and Villa exchange passes, Villa emerging in a position similar to the one occupied by Messi a moment ago. But the ball’s at his feet, and he should do better than slice wide of the near post.
50 min: Fabregas advances from the right, and measures a loft
for fibreglass over the defence, where Messi has advanced between right and centre-back. He lashes a shot as the ball drops, but hits across it, skewing wide.
50 min: Is Albeartoe Achwilairni still a Kop hero?
48 min: Abate skids through Xavi on the left, and the referee declines to book him. From the ensuing free-kick, wide on the left, the ball’s cleared to Puyol and his shot is blocked.
47 min: The referee will now be aware that he booked the wrong chap – I do hope the Milan players are laughing at him for that. There’s actually a case to be made for his issuing a straight red for the foul – Xavi may well have got to the ball before Abiatti and in time to shoot – but given the grey area, I can see why he didn’t.
46 min: Pato on for Robinho, and off we go again. Robinho does, of course, look like your friend and mine, the venerable Morph.
The Winklevii are advertising salt-and-pepper nuts. Weird.
And here are tonight’s goals thanks to the very fine 101greatgoals.
In the meantime, here’s a snap of the old Giuseppe Meazza that people with souls might find evocative.
EUREKA! It’s been bothering me for as long as I’ve known what he looks like, but, finally, I know who Robinho reminds me off. Take a half-time to see if you can guess. Or don’t. But I’ll tell you after then.
That was good. Actually, that was really good. I’m pleased.
HALF-TIME: MILAN 1-2 BARCELONA
45+1 min: I did, of course, mean this.
43 min: Prince-Boateng gets his. Good. Trying a bit of twinkletoes junk that’s way beyond him on the left, he was instead clattered by Puyol – it went something like this. Seedorf swerved in a hard free-kick that his Mascherano in the chest, and eventually van Bommel had a shot from close to the by-line that was saved.
41 min: Brilliant tackle from Mascherano dispossesses Robinho as he was about to shoot, so he chucks himself to the ground and appeals for a penalty. Moments later, the delightful Prince-Boateng dives over a challenge, fooling the referee and demanding a card for good measure.
41 min: Zlatan, then. “At times, he’s a little inconsistent”, enlightened Steve McClaren earlier this evening. Magnificent cunt, or plain cunt?
39 min: Messi sets off on a run from right to left, imperceptible feints removing men from his planned route. Eventually making it around the outside of them, he fires in a shot that Abbiati saves well.
38 min: Valdes pushes out a mishit cross-shot from Prince-Boateng that he pretends was going in.
36 min: In all the artificial excitement, I forgot to tell you how that Barca penalty came about, and the truth is that I’ve almost forgotten. There was some kind of one-two, and Xavi who was pulled down – by Aquilani, who’s already been booked in one of many incidents I was unable to relay. The ref then went and booked Nesta, so Aquilani remains with us.
34 min: Van Bommel scissorses into Xavi from behind, and is booked. If anyone’s read Glue, by the way, he’s what I imagine Juice Terry to look like. I always wondered about that Holland manager who obviously knows van Bommel, and yet let him marry his daughter.
33 min: Barca almost score again, Messi finding Villa on the left of the box, and he opens his body to slot into the far corner, but Abbiati is down sharply and beats it into the ground and against the bar
32 min: OBVIOUSLY HE SCORES AGAIN.
Turned hard, with his left foot, into the opposite corner. Abbiati went the right, way, but the ball was nestling in the side-netting well before he arrived there.
30 min: Messi ambles up to the ball, stops, waits for Abiatti to hurl left, and rolls it right. The kick will be retaken, with little Leo in the book.
29 min: PENALTY TO BARCA!
23 min: Xavi, in space just outside the Milan box, right-hand side, is allowed space to find Fabregas, advanced and wider. His cross towards the near post is met by Messi, and incredibly, from a few yards, he hits the bar.
21 min: Magical, devilishly beautiful miss from Hobinho. Zlatan crosses low and hard from the right, and no one botheres to clear, allowing the ball to reach Prince-Boateng at the far post. He tries a shot that he later intimates was a cross, and it’s perfect for Robinho, dead centre and about three yards out, but he lifts over the top.
This happened quite some time ago – well, three minutes ago and before the goal – but my computer has, in a biblish way, decided to dispense with chronology.
20 min: ZLATAN SCORES AN EXCELLENT EQUALISER! 1-1!
Long ball, hit from centre-to-left by Thiago (I’m guessing, I admit it). With the Alacantra version nowhere to be seen, Robinho controls it and pulls over to Puyol, making a yard and slipping a cross inside him for Zlatan, who drill-sweeps a low left-footer beyond Valdes. Not sure where Mascherano thought he was meant to be.
18 min: Yes, my computer is not loving this. Or should that be no, my computer is not loving this. Anyway, more brilliance from the brilliant Tiago, coming in off the right and flick-poking an oblique ball between two defenders that fell perfectly for Fabregas. He watches it over his shoulder and belted an immediate shot, but Abbiati moved smartly to his left to make an excellent block.
14 min: GOL GOL GOL GOL GOL DO BARCELONA!
And it did, of course, involve some pretty tasty
lips play. Thiago flicked on as close to a hoof as they ever muster, and scooted after it, close to the right corner. Gently teasing Zambrotta, he rolled back, and the ball was transferred to Messi, just outside the box. Leaning back ever-so gently, he arced a left-footer wide to Keita, and his cross hit Thiago Silva. It probably went straight in, but Xavi is claiming a touch.
12 min: Luckily, I am now in a position to welcome Accuracy’s Alexander Netherton to our group. “Doesn’t Dayvid Silver play for Citeh?”, he pretends to ask. But indeed he does, I was, of course, referring to Dayvid Viller. some of my best friends are Spainish, etc etc.
11 min: Milan aim a set-piece into the Barca box, where Thiago relaxes a header back to Victor Valdes, who has a bit of a dive for something to.
10 min: Seedorf does what Alistair Walker reliably informed me is “a cool John Collins Turn™”. Not sure I know what one of those is, does it involve Dynasty or divorce?
Not that much going on, by the way.
8 min: An email, from the world’s Alistair Walker: “Is Clarence Seedorf the most under-rated player of the last twenty years? I’ve never understood why he wasn’t more appreciated. Class, medals and longevity.”
He was certainly underrated in England, or at least by my own self – and I don’t know why either. But people seem quite keen now.
4 min: Milan have started well, and Barca look like a side that’s mislaid its form for the first time in about three years. Only a bit, mind, and they wriggle downfield with Messi who sweeps left, only for Dayvid Silver to annihilate one over the bar.
1 min: Milan get on with it quickly, Prince-Boateng, who has achieved so much as to have already returned from international football, self-effaces his way down the right, and slips over a low cross aimed at Robinho, but he couldn’t reach it. Zlatan then boots someone up in the hair.
1 min: It begins.
Another peculiar team from Guardiola then. I am not good at listening when not listening. It’ll be Puyol at right-back, and Mascherano and Biscuits at centre-back.
AC Milan: 32-Christian Abbiati; 20-Ignazio Abate, 13-Alessandro Nesta, 33-Thiago Silva, 19-Gianluca Zambrotta; 4-Mark Van Bommel; 18-Alberto Aquilani, 27-Kevin-Prince Boateng, 10-Clarence Seedorf; 70-Robinho, 11-Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 5-Carlos Puyol, 14-Javier Mascherano, 16-Sergio Busquets, 22-Eric Abidal; 6-Xavi, 15-Seydou Keita, 11-Thiago Alcantara; 4-Cesc Fabregas; 10-Lionel Messi, 7-David Villa
Bloke who’ll be better than anyone in England: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
Other things I’ve been unable to tune out: Steve McClaren describing Mario Gotze as “a one of them”.
When I can find another site diligent enough to type them out, I’ll furnish you with some teams. But based upon the television patter I’ve been unable tune out, everyone not injured is playing.
Is anyone seriously watching Arsenal or Chelsea tonight? If there were a way of telling who was, if they were found not to support either side, I’d be all for a bit of population control. Partly for the fun of it, admittedly, bu for utilitarian reasons mainly.
Not that this all we’d like it to be; Barcelona are a perfect representative of a world in which it’s impossible to know who you’re meant to hate, or for avid completists, to what degree. By rights, we should be in their thrall – they have incredible players who appreciate their position, some of whom even seem like decent blokes, and at their best, they’re as good as anyone’s ever been arsed to be. But then there’s the whinging, the falling and the entitlement, the reality that tiki-fucking-taka oscillates from aesthetic to tedious more often than it should, and suddenly you’re wondering if it’s possible to be mes qe un cunt. Great tune though.
As for Milan, there’s just no coming back from the thin stripes, I’m afraid.