Milan holds off Catalans in Champions LeagueSept 15,2011
|AC Milan’s Thiago Silva celebrates scoring against Barcelona in the final minute to make the score 2-2 during their Group H Champions League match on Tuesday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]|
LONDON - Barcelona conceded a goal after 24 seconds and another in stoppage time as its Champions League title defense opened with a 2-2 draw against AC Milan on Tuesday, while Arsenal was also left stunned by Borussia Dortmund’s late equalizer.
Dortmund leveled in the 88th minute, with Ivan Perisic’s volley canceling out Robin van Persie’s first-half goal for Arsenal in the 1-1 draw in Group F.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas oversaw a 2-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in Group E, while his former club Porto beat nine-man Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 in Group G.
The Wembley Stadium triumph cemented Barcelona’s status as the superpower in world football and Pep Guardiola’s side is favorite to become European champions for the fifth time in May.
But the script went against them at the Nou Camp on Tuesday against a Milan side missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho to injury.
Just 24 seconds had elapsed when Pato coolly slid the ball under goalkeeper Victor Valdes after dashing through Barcelona’s half.
A determined Lionel Messi led the Spanish champions’ response as the Argentina forward created Pedro’s 36th-minute equalizer before David Villa curled a long-range free kick into the net five minutes into the second half.
“We could have played better after Barcelona took the lead,’’ AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “But I’m happy because the team did not collapse until we found the late equalizer.’’
That came deep into stoppage time when Thiago Silva leapt high to meet Clarence Seedorf’s corner to secure a point for Milan.
“We did all we were supposed to do but we are still left with this bitter taste,’’ Barcelona coach Guardiola said. All four teams in Group H are on one point after BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen drew 1-1.
In Germany, Arsenal went in front just before halftime when Van Persie won possession from Sebastian Kehl and played a one-two with Theo Walcott before beating Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller with his shot.
But after Marcel Schmelzer’s free kick was only half cleared by Kieran Gibbs toward the end, Ivan Perisic volleyed in a late equalizer. Korean striker Park Chu-young failed to play despite being named in the squad.
The draw enabled Marseille to go top of the group after Lucho Gonzalez secured a 1-0 victory over Olympiakos.
At Stamford Bridge, Fernando Torres continued his goal drought for Chelsea this season but set up both goals.