Schalke takes a slim advantage back to Gelsenkirchen for the return leg
Ghanaians Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari both scored in a lively second half as AC Milan inflicted a shock 2-0 defeat on Barcelona in its Champions League last 16 first leg at the San Siro.
Milan, crowned European champion seven times, had failed to beat the Catalan giant in the competition since a 2-0 win at the Camp Nou in 2000 and had exited the competition last season and in 2006 after defeats at the hands of Barcelona.
But, after a promising first-half display was taken up a level in the second period, fans of the Rossoneri were given reason to believe that their team can advance to the quarterfinals.
“It’s a great win for us,” admitted Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri. “We worked hard as a club to prepare for this match and the lads did a great job.
In a tight first half, Barcelona toyed with the host’s defence without really putting ‘keeper Christian Abbiati in danger.
Milan sought to get men behind the ball but was still left rueing several missed chances.
On 16 minutes, an unmarked Giampaolo Pazzini failed to convert Boateng’s first-time effort from Stephan El Shaarawy’s corner at the far post.
French defender Phillipe Mexes then did well at the other end with a saving block at the near post from a dangerous Pedro Rodriguez cross.
El Shaarawy then missed a great chance for the opener, prompting a torrent of abuse from angry home fans, when he ran on to Boateng’s ball on the left only to fire tamely towards Victor Valdes.
From the striker’s ensuing corner, Boateng produced a great first-time effort with the outside of his foot that went inches past Valdes’ far post as Pazzini stood rooted.
El Shaarawy was then unlucky not to reach Boateng’s floated ball in from the right on 36 minutes after Muntari had done well to win the ball in midfield.
At Milan: AC Milan 2 (Boateng 57, Muntari 81) bt Barcelona 0.
At Istanbul: Galatasaray 1 (Burak Yilmaz 12) drew with Schalke 1 (Jones 45).