Champions League

AC Milan frustrate Barcelona

2012-03-28 22:57
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gerard Pique (AP)

Milan - Holders Barcelona were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at AC Milan in their Champions League quarter-final first leg despite dominating possession for long spells and having a good shout for a penalty on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi, who has scored a Spanish record of 55 goals in all competitions for Barcelona this season, had hit the target in each of his last nine outings for club and country but ran into a dead end at the San Siro.

He had the ball in the net in the 17th minute but it was ruled out for offside and apart from that Milan did a good job of cancelling the Argentine out, restricting him to only a handful of runs which have wreaked havoc with other sides.

Barcelona, who themselves failed to score for the first time in nine Champions League games this season, had the better of the tie and remain favourites to progress in the return at Nou Camp next Tuesday but Milan are eyeing away goals.

"I take it as a compliment that we have got this result, the team had a good game and I think it is a good result," Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf told Rai Television.

"A goal could be enough in the Nou Camp and we will have more of our players available. If we manage to play well we have chances to progress.

"Barcelona are the strongest team in the world but cycles finish for everyone and we are in form, we have a 50 percent chance to advance."

Robinho should have given seven-times European champions Milan the lead right at the start when he was found unmarked at the far post but hooked the ball wildly over.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic also had a good chance for the Serie A leaders when he collected a pass on the edge of the area but his weak shot was well-saved by Victor Valdes.

Apart from that, Barcelona dominated possession in their familiar style and had a penalty appeal turned down when Alexis Sanchez appeared to be tripped by goalkeeper Christian Abbiati in the first half.

There were plenty of neat passing moves involved Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sanchez, one of which ended with Abbiati turning away Xavi's shot in the 25th minute.

Xavi was also close with a dipping effort while Iniesta failed to hit the target when the ball found him at the far post.

Milan's stout defence was symbolised by left back Luca Antonini producing a superb last-ditch tackle to stop Sanchez firing in on goal as Barca resembled the home side for spells.

Iniesta began the second half with a run and shot which went just wide before the game became bogged down with the defenders prevailing, even against Messi and Ibrahimovic.

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