herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Milan rattle Barca as opener ends in draw at Nou Camp

BARCELONA conceded one of the fastest goals ever scored in the Champions League and then suffered the shock of a stoppage-time equaliser as they began the defence of their crown with a 2-2 draw at home to Italian league winners AC Milan.

The standout fixture of the night in the Nou Camp exploded into life when Milan's Alexandre Pato surged through a flat-footed Barca backline to score the fifth-fastest goal in the competition, timed at 24 seconds.

It took Barcelona a while to clear their heads, but the Catalans were level before half-time when Lionel Messi, top scorer in the competition for the past three years, turned provider with a perfect cut back for Pedro to tap in for the champions.

David Villa's sublime curling free kick after 50 minutes put Barca in front and, with Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic missing through injury, the Italians rarely threatened to get back on level terms.

However, the seven-time European champions struck again at the death when Thiago Silva rose above the home defence to head home from a corner in the second minute of stoppage time.

A frustrating night for Barca was summed up by a leg muscle injury sustained by midfielder Andres Iniesta that will keep him out for four weeks. Iniesta was replaced before half-time by new signing Cesc Fabregas.

In the other Group H game, Czech side VIKTORIA Plzen were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Belarussian outfit BATE Borisov.

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