Late Silva show denies Barca

Milan had also started the match in stunning fashion with Alexandre

Pato netting in the opening 30 seconds but Barca turned the game

around and looked to be on course to claim the win thanks to goals

from Pedro Rodriguez and David Villa. However, Pep Guardiola’s men

could not find a third goal to wrap the tie up and they were

stunned two minutes into injury time when Thiago Silva powered home

Clarence Seedorf’s corner to salvage a point for seven-time

European champions Milan. The Italian champions could hardly have

had a better start with Pato scoring soon after kick-off Barca

again started without their first-choice central defensive

partnership of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, and the makeshift

pairing of Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets were badly exposed

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 Victor Valdes from the edge of

the area. That was a remarkable start to the clash between the two

European superpowers, and it sparked Barca into an almost

relentless onslaught on the Milan goal as they went 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 49th 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.