AC Milan reached the Champions
League last 16 despite being held to a 1-1 draw by a spirited
BATE Borisov on Tuesday after a first half of domination
evaporated into a struggle to claim a point.
The seven-times European Cup winners went through to
February's knockout stages after holders Barcelona also
qualified by beating Viktoria Plzen in the later Group H game.
The results mean Milan, now second in the group with eight
points, cannot be caught by the bottom-placed Czech side or
BATE. They have a better head-to-head record over the
Belarussians who are in third place on two points with two games
Milan's Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave his side the
lead in the 22nd minute after taking the ball off a defender,
giving it to Robinho and then calmly slotting in the return pass
with the home defence nowhere nearby.
The visitors celebrated the goal with Kevin-Prince Boateng
revealing the shirt of team-mate Antonio Cassano, recovering in
a Milan hospital after being struck down with a debilitating
illness. An update on his condition is due on Wednesday.
The Italian champions were in fine form in the first half
but BATE improved markedly after the break and equalised in the
55th when Brazilian Renan Bressan converted a penalty after
defender Ignazio Abate barged down Artyom Kontsevoi.
Champions League debutant referee Peter Rasmussen of Denmark
had no hesitation pointing to the spot despite furious protests
from Milan that the challenge was merely a shoulder charge.
"It's typical in football. If you don't kill games off when
you can, then anything can happen," AC Milan coach Massimiliano
Allegri told reporters.
"In the end we risked losing a game that was in our hands
for more than an hour."
Milan had several first-half chances and striker Robinho,
who was lucky to escape sanction in an elbow incident, hit the
post after running clear of the static defence.
The Brazilian also had a fierce effort tipped over the bar
while Ibrahimovic saw a free-kick saved in the Dinamo Stadion.
The Belarus champions forced Christian Abbiati into only one
decent stop before the interval with forward Maksim Skavysh,
surprisingly preferred to Mateja Kezman, having a header
well-saved but the second half was totally different.
The home crowd made more and more noise as unheralded BATE
continually troubled Milan's stunned defence and they well
deserved the draw and could even have taken a famous win at the
They next host Viktoria, who have one point, on November 23 in a
bid to secure third spot and a place in the Europa League.
Milan welcome Barca the same night when the only relevant
factor will be who finishes top of the group to receive a better
seeding in the last-16 draw.
Berlin will stage Champions League final for the first time in 2015
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze ruled out of Champions League final against Bayern Munich
Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand signs one-year contract
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010