Milan deny holders Barca
Injury-time equaliser against the run of play as Barca drop points
By Jamie Casey. Last Updated: September 13, 2011 10:19pm
Pato scored the fifth-fastest goal in Champions League history
Thiago Silva headed an injury-time equaliser for AC Milan to deny UEFA Champions League holders Barcelona three points in a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou.
The Italian visitors had taken a lead inside 25 seconds when Brazilian forward Pato took advantage of a makeshift Barcelona defence to race through on goal and slot past Victor Valdes.
The hosts responded by dominating possession, boasting 70 per cent of the share in the first-half, but it took until the 36th minute for Pedro to equalise from close range.
After the break, a sublime David Villa free-kick put the Catalan club in front for the first time but, despite cruising towards the finish line Barca were pegged back.
Milan won a late corner and veteran Clarence Seedorf whipped in the delivery with Silva out-jumping two defenders and planting a header into the top corner to make it honours even between the top seeds in Group H.
Barca again started without their first-choice central defensive partnership of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, and the forced pairing of Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets were badly exposed in the opening minute by the speedy Pato.
The Brazilian picked up possession near the centre circle and then, as the Barca defence converged on him, he pushed the ball into space behind the home backline before racing through and slotting his shot under Valdes from the edge of the area.
It was the fifth-fastest goal in the history of the competition and it sparked Barca into an almost relentless onslaught on the Milan goal in search of an equaliser.
Villa shot into the side netting but it was Messi who was at the heart of Barca's attempted fightback, the Argentina superstar having a shot turned behind by Christian Abbiati before then seeing a dipping, curling free-kick hit the outside of the post.
Messi also brought another two saves out of Abbiati after Villa had sent an acrobatic volley over the crossbar.
During that spell, Milan briefly threatened on the counter-attack but Kevin-Prince Boateng blazed over from a decent opening on the right of the area.
Milan's rearguard was finally breached in the 36th minute when Barca drew level, with Messi again taking centre stage.
Milan defender Ignazio Abate looked favourite to reach the ball as Messi tried to go past him, but the diminutive playmaker did superbly to burst past the full-back before poking a pass across the face of goal, where the unmarked Pedro was on hand to tap in at the far post.
Barca suffered a setback just before half-time when Andres Iniesta limped off injured, but his replacement was the in-form Cesc Fabregas.
While Milan were quickest out of the blocks at the start of the game, it was Barca who enjoyed the much better start in the second period.
Xavi brought a fine diving save out of Abbiati before the home side took the lead in the 50th minute through a brilliant free-kick from Villa, the Spain international finding the top corner from almost 30 yards out.
That goal was good enough to win any match and it looked like settling this contest as Milan, despite going close with a 72nd-minute header from Pato that was saved by Valdes, still trailed as the match entered injury time.
However, there was to be a late twist as, after Milan had won a corner on the right, Thiago Silva climbed highest in the middle to head Seedorf's cross past Valdes.
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|7||Shots on Target||3|
|9||Shots off Target||2|
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Tue 13th Sep - Group E
Chelsea2 - 0Leverkusen
Genk0 - 0Valencia
Tue 13th Sep - Group F
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B Dortmund1 - 1Arsenal
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