Milan snatch 2-2 draw at holders Barcelona

Reuters, Tuesday 13 Sep 2011

Thiago Silva powered home a header in the second minute of stoppage time to snatch a 2-2 draw for AC Milan at holders Barcelona in the heavyweight pair’s Group H opener on Tuesday

Milan striker Alexander Pato celebrates after scoring the first goal

A sultry Nou Camp was stunned into near-silence after only 24 seconds when Alexandre Pato left the Barca defence for dead and beat goalkeeper Victor Valdes, the fifth-fastest goal in Europe’s elite club competition, according to Opta.

However, World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Champions League top scorer the past three seasons, created an equaliser for Pedro in the 36th minute with a brilliant weaving run and cross and David Villa netted a superb long-range freekick five minutes after the break.

A dominant Barca were apparently cruising towards victory when Brazil defender Silva leaped above the home defence and crashed a 92nd-minute header past Valdes.

Barca fullback Daniel Alves told Spanish television: “When they score an equaliser in the last minute you are left looking a bit stupid. We have to pick ourselves up and keep working.”

With captain Carles Puyol only just declared fit after knee surgery and his partner in central defence Gerard Pique sidelined, Barca coach Pep Guardiola deployed midfielders Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano at the back.

The decision immediately appeared to have backfired when pacy Brazil striker Pato picked the ball up near the halfway line, played it into a huge space behind the defence and raced clear to score.

Straightaway Barca created a slew of chances for an equaliser before Messi, after striking a curling freekick against the post, once again came to the rescue.

The Argentine forward danced through the Milan defence to the byline and squared for Pedro to rifle home with goalkeeper Christian Abbiati stranded.

Barca had recovered their customary domination of possession and a goal had long been coming when Villa stepped up to crack the ball into the top corner from 30 metres. 

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