Malaga hold Milan to advance
MILAN, Italy, Nov 6, 2012 (AFP) - Competition debutants Malaga held seven-time champions AC Milan to a 1-1 draw at the San Siro to secure qualification for the knockout phase of the Champions League here Tuesday.
Milan, ousted in the quarter-finals by Barcelona last season, dominated the first half but spurned several opportunities before Eliseu put the visitors ahead against the run of play in the 40th minute.
Brazilian Alexandre Pato then gave Milan hope of a second win in the group phase when he levelled in the 73rd, but despite the hosts' push for a late winner the Rossoneri were to be denied.
As well as enduring arguably their worst ever start to a season, Milan's record against Spanish clubs in Europe read: won one, drawn five and lost six in their last 12 games.
But, buoyed by a 5-1 win over Chievo in Serie A Saturday, Massimiliano Allegri's side displayed attacking verve in the opening half thanks largely to the energetic runs of Bojan.
On 19 minutes the Spanish forward danced around the Malaga defence to unleash a shot which forced Malaga keeper Willy to quickly turn on his heels and parry after the ball had taken a deflection.
Moments later Bojan got to the Malaga byline and cut the ball back for Stephan El Shaarawy, who saw his solid first-time effort blocked.
When Pato won a freekick on the edge of the area, Dutch winger Emanuelson stepped up to send a curling effort around the defensive wall towards goal but Willy produced a spectacular dive to palm the ball round the upright.
Milan were dominating, but Malaga exposed the hosts' defence all too easily, Eliseu whipping over a dangerous cross in the fifth minute that was eventually swept out for a corner.
Joaquin, who scored the winner in Spain two weeks ago, then dribbled through the defence to feed Javier Saviola on the edge of the box in the 10th minute until Milan bundled the ball to safety.
Against the run of play, Malaga broke the deadlock through Eliseu who latched onto Isco's through ball to beat Abbiati low to the keeper's right after the Spaniard's mazy run caught Milan chasing back towards their own goal.
Milan continued their pressing early in the second half, but without any real true conviction.
Guinean defender Kevin Constant did well to set up El Shaarawy inside the area but the Italian's swivel and turn effort went well wide of the post.
Soon after, Allegri replaced El Shaarawy with Kevin Prince Boateng whose first touch was a volley from all of 35 metres as Willy strayed off his line.
When Emanuelson's freekick from just outside the area went straight to the keeper, it summed up Milan's mediocre start to the second period.
They were soon lifted however by a 73rd minute equaliser, Pato rising high at the back post to head Constant's cross past Willy.
Both sides went on to create chances in the remaining 17 minutes, with Roque Santa Cruz, who came on earlier for Saviola, dribbling past the Milan defence with consumate ease.
Allegri sent on Robinho for Emanuelson late on and despite showing glimpses of promise the hosts failed to penetrate the Malaga backline.