Milan had the better of the first half, two great saves from Thibaut Courtois keeping them out, but Atletico gradually wore them down, and Diego Costa headed a brilliant winner
Well, that was very compelling indeed. The second half lacked the pace and panache of the first, but gradually and deliberately, Atletico enveloped Milan, then discovered the kind of winner that has sustained them all season. It’s hard to see them not progressing from here, but this was a difficult game for them, of a kind that most of them won’t yet have experienced. They’ll be better for it, while Milan will be too - they asserted themselves well against a good side, and played with intensity and pace.
Thanks all for your company and comments; night-night.
990+3 min Adrian Lopez is booked for something or other, and De Jong humps a free-kick from just inside the Atletico half into the box, whereupon a free-kick is awarded for something else or other.
90+1 min It’s taken a while, but Diego Costa is into this now, accelerating through the middle of the Milan midfield, charging through Essien’s insipid trip and past Rami, who brings him down. He’s booked, and Gabi then clips the free-kick into the wall.
90 min There shall be three added minutes.
90 min “Chopping at the bit seems quite dangerous, doesn’t it,” says Matthew Turner. “Especially if it’s still in your gob.”
The Simeone effect, right there.
88 min He’s only recently come on as sub, but Thomas Muller has thomasmullered a goal, so Bayern lead Arsenal 2-0. Done and done.
86 min Milan win another free-kick in a dangerous position, left of centre and 35 yards out. With Balotelli holding his shoulder, Emanuelson taps right for Rami to hurtle into a low drive that zoots just past the left-hand post.
What a header this is. Gabi’s corner from the right is towards the near post, but clips the top of Abate’s head and floats aimlessly towards the back - where Costa backpeddles, arches his back, skips, and slams brow into ball to headbutt past Abbiati. Brilliant.
82 min Atletico are right on top now, most of the game taking place in the Madrid half - but they’ve yet to create a chance. But!
80 min Garcia re-injured himself in the challenge aimed at preventing his shot, and departs. Adrian Lopez comes on, and David Villa does not - despite the “chopping at the bit” our commentator believes him to be doing.
79 min This is lovely from Atletico, a succession of sharp passes working the ball from left to right, until Koke’s cross is turned towards goal by Raul Garcia - but he can’t find the power or direction to beat Abbiati.
77 min Pazzini replaces Balotelli, who immediately starts grabbing at his shoulder to ensure that no one thinks the change is tactical.
75 min Diego Costa escapes Bonera close to the centre-circle and pounds diagonally from left to right, sneaks a pass through to Raul Garcia. He swivels onto it and shoots across Abbiati, but the connection isn’t true.
74 min A change for Atletico - Rodriguez for Turan. Pazzini appears ready to come on for Milan, but for now, remains at the side.
73 min Atletico have done very little this half - they might do well to move Koke inside, because his influence has been negligible.
71 min Adel Taarabt is enjoying himself - funny that - but botches a half-chance, when Essien escapes down the left and crosses, the ball reaching Taarabt at the far post. The angle’s tight, but there are plenty of defenders well-placed to administer the crucial deflection, only for him to rush things and skews his shot square.
70 min Balotelli glares Emanuelson and Kaka away from the ball, Emanuelson runs over it, and Balotelli tries a curler, which hits the encroaching wall.
69 min Balotelli snatches possession 40 yards from goal and quicksteps past Diego Costa, who immediately brings him down. He’s booked, and Milan have a free-kick, dead centre and 30 yards out...
68 min The game has reached an unstale stalemate - expect imminent substitutions.
66 min Relative calm.
64 min Kaka swings in the cross, and Essien, arriving late, glances just wide of the far post. Insua needs a change of shorts.
63 min And Milan then win a free-kick in a similar position, but just left of centre. Balotelli’s behind it, and I’m not sure we’ll see any passing here. He drives, it’s deflected, and for reasons known best not even to himself, Insua steps away from the ball, so that it goes behind for a right-wing corner. Simeone is unhappy.
61 min Bonera slides in late on Diego Costa, 35 yards out and marginally left of centre - he’s booked. And they’ve thought about this free-kick, Gabi shaping to shoot before tapping off forward and left for Juan to inswing towards the far post. Someone or other was offside, but that was clever play - sadly, it’s a matter of time before teams stop shooting from free-kicks, because the success rate is so low.
60 min Vintage Kaka, somehow, simultaneously, drifting and accelerating - again close to the right corner of the box. He beats two men, but lasers a shot just wide.
59 min Simeone is preparing Diego, but Raul Garcia is countenancing no such thing - it’s just a flesh wound, after all.
58 min Taarabt cuts in off the right, employing his natural jink, before dragging a shinner straight at Courtois.
57 min Raul Garcia is bleeding after an inadvertent scrape administered by Emanuelson, and is receiving attention.
56 min Toni Kroos has just astonished Bayern Munich into the lead at the Emirates. He’s desperate to play for David Moyes next season, apparently.
54 min Milan have yet to relocate their fury.
52 min This is rather peculiar. Juanfran crosses from the right, and Diego Costa sees it coming, so pulls away from Rami and Bonera, towards the far post and close to the penalty spot, such that he’s alone when the ball drops. He might control on his chest and tuck a finish past Abbiati, but instead, launches into a scissors kick that he catches well - too well, you’d say if you were a silly person - which flies over the top.
50 min What the bible calls “tohu vavohu” at the moment - shapeless and unformed, pre-creation.
48 min Raul Garcia slides inside from the top right corner of the box to leather a shot not dissimilar to Kaka’s in the first half, which flashes just wide.
47 min Diego Simeone is very bad man - I’d love to see Jose Mourinho try it with him. But right now, his team need adjustments - to try and get Diego Costa into the game, and to tax Milan centrally as well as out wide. We shall see.
46 min DJ’s got the party started, theres no end in sight, everybody’s moving to the rhythm that’s inside, it’s a crazy world, but tonight’s the right situation. Don’t get left behind.
Two pints of Gazprom and a packet of Gazprom. That’s an idea for a sitcom, by the way.
Half-time advert break.
That’s why we’re out here; that was a thrilling half of “Champions League” football. Atletico started well, but Milan grew into the game, almost visibly - the referee is currently checking the pitch for mushrooms - and found a real viciousness, banging into tackles and passing with pace and intensity. This is not the kind of thing with which Atletico generally have to deal, and they didn’t, really - though they still attacked with menace when they could, Milan look a lot more comfortable defending their low crosses than do they defending the more varied assaults of Milan’s unpredictable individuals.
45 min There shall be one additional minute of breathless chasing.
45 min Alaba has missed a penalty for Bayern Munich - he hit the post - but Szczesny has been sent-off.
44 min Koke nashes down the left, past Abate, who slides into his shin and is booked.
42 min Balotelli finds space on the right once more, roughly halfway between the touchline and the edge of the box. With Suarez and Insua jostling towards him like grouch bouncers, he turns back to face goal and diddles the pair of them, nipping between their shoulders. He is duly apprehended, and Suarez is booked for the foul. The free-kick eventually makes its way back to Balotelli, well outside the box, and he pastes a low shot well wide.
41 min Milan really could do with sorting this left side of their defence, Juanfran again escaping to lace a low cross from Turan at the near post - who, attempting to let the ball run across his instep and into the far corner, slides it wide.
38 min “Cleared by length or width”, wonders Matt Dony of the aforementioned small margin.
It was square.
36 min Brilliant and brave defending from Abate. Again, Atletico attack down the right, Koke finding Raul Garcia, and his low cross looked perfect for Diego Costa - but at the last second, Abate extended a leg to divert the ball behind, despite severe risk of own goal.
31 min More brilliance from Kaka - after brilliance from Balotelli. Controlling a long ball, he burrows deep into the box on its right, drawing two men, before backheeling into Kaka’s path - who sweeps an instashot with his instep that clears the bar by a pubic hair.
28 min Costa, who’s been quiet, mooches over to the right and finds Juanfran, to cross low and hard. But it catches Insua on his heels, and though he finds a spurt to worry Abate, he can’t get there in time to shoot. The ball then breaks to Taraabt, who dithers and feints, losing it - somewhere in non-social housing on Sandbanks, Harry Redknapp’s cheeks jiggle self-righteously - and Milan manage to sneak the ball behind. The corner comes to nowt.
26 min De Sciglio is forced to depart, following Insua’s challenge. Abate replaces him.
25 min After a few minutes of Milanese supremacy, Koke brings Atletico forward along the right, and finds Juanfran who finds Turan. Again, the cross is aimed at Raul Garcia, but again, he can’t accurately unite furrows with pig’s bladder.
23 min In the spirit of Tybalt Courtois, other dressing room nicknames you wish existed:
Radio Raheem Sterling
Kevin “Benjamin” Constant
Joe “Tony” Hart
Henri “Angela” Lansbury
20 min Things are now of exceptional warmth. Insua boots De Jong from behind, then De Sciglio, and melee doth ensue. Joy! Insua is booked.
19 min San Siro is now officially jumping.
18 min Another wondrous save from Courtois! Taarabt takes the ball, again on the right corner of the box but further outside this time. He takes one look - it’s more of a lo, really - and arcs a cross for Poli, who jumps top glance a header down to the far corner. But again, the merest touch deflects it just enough, onto the post. Wow.
17 min Is Thibaut Courtois’s dressing room nickname Tybalt? I hope so.
15 min Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite! Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite! Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite! Dearie us, what a zetz this is. Maybe 25 yards out, right corner of the box, your man Kaka takes possession from Taarabt and allows the ball across his body before turning to unleash one of those shots that floats like tank missile - and it’s headed for the far top corner, but Courtois flings across goal to tip onto the bar.
14 min “Part of me is very happy to see Taraabt surrounded by much better players, looking forward to seeing if his undoubted talents can truly shine,” says
Simon McMahon Matt Dony. “But, another nasty little part of me really wants him to fall flat on his face. Am I a bad person?”
Not at all - it’s a situation all too rare in modern football, when we win either way.
12 min Atletico have slowed down, and Milan have speeded up, so things have been fairly even these last few minutes. But then Juanfran wriggles past De Jong on the right, and Koke overtakes him, pinching the ball from his toe - but as he prepares to shoot, Emanuelson’s leg intervenes.
10 min Milan win a free-kick on the right, 35 yards from goal and well right of centre - from roughly the same spot that he eviscerated that jazzer against Bologna the other night. This time, he scuffs is low and wide.
9 min Clever Mesut Ozil has just stuttered into a clever penalty, that Manuel Neuer has saved - think Seaman against Sampdoria.
7 min Juanfran takes possession from a throw on the right, deep in the Milan half, and chwhips over a cross that has Raul Garcia pogoing over Constant to acquaint brow with ball. But he can’t quite direct his header, and Abbiati saves. Milan then scramble the ball behind, for a corner than comes to nothing.
6 min Milan experience possession, Cypress Hill’s Urby Emanuelson nashing down the left. But his cross is easily intercepted, and Atletico begin passing once more.
3 min Atletico have started like a team utterly separated from their pectorals on confidence, to the extent that it could almost be a banned substance. Suarez crosses knee-high from the right, and Garcia attempts to turn into a shot at goal, but Rami blocks.
2 min San Siro really is a magnificent football ground. It’s not quite jumping yet, but knees are most definitely flexing.
1 min Costa incurs down the left from the off, and slips a ball between De Sciglio and Bonera for the onrushing Raul Garcia - but a phalanx of stripes closes him off, and Milan eventually earn a goalkick.
1 min Yo, Vanilla. Kick it one time...booooyyyyy. We’re off.
“Verbing” says Jkeltgv, the silver-tongued lothario. “I’ve got more of a problem with verbing rather than nouning. ‘To gift’ being the most obvious: he’s gifted possession to the opposition. But trophied (or medelled or podiumed in Olympic sports) gets a big run these days.”
Anyone who uses “trophied” should be punished by immediate atrophy.
These are the best teams
They are the best teams
The main event
The biggest teams
A big gathering
A big sports event
The main event
They are the best
They are the best
These are the champions
The biggest teams
The players are tunnelled. And they’re out!
Tell me, do many Bayern Munich fans decorate their Twitter handles with circumflexes?
“Your 6.42pm photo” declares George Wright. “What’s Peter Andre so angry about?”
What isn’t Peter Andre so angry about? About what isn’t Peter Andre so angry? And I’ll bet Mr Reeusgirl sports a look similar to that paraded by Jérôme Boateng.
Email - well, tweet. “Jerome Boateng’s look of barely-contained disgust dates back to childhood”, observes Robert
He’s called Jerome. His brother is called Kevin-Prince.
Dwight Yorke is garbed in normal attire. Accordingly, what is the point?
Neologism dept: Gary Neville has just invented the footballing noun “handle”. As in: “he’ll be a hard handle for Sagna tonight.” Any more football nouns? Ping, pick-out...
Initial impressions. That Meelan side ain’t nuthin to
fu mess around with. Someone should tell Wu Tang that the correct usage is “ain’t nuthin around with which to be fu messed”. Bagsy not me.
The arse-end of Kaka’s career is a real shame, and entirely unnecessary. Quite why no one liberated him from Madrid sooner is hard to fathom, but at 31, even if he’s not quite got the acceleration, the touch and eye remain. Especially with Adel Taarabt alongside him; his change of pace is really something, and playing alongside players who know what’s what, there’s an opportunity for him to try things without a manager worrying about the consequences of failure, and team-mates of comparable quality.
AC Milan (4-2-3-1): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Bonera, Rami, Emanuelson; Essien, De Jong; Poli, Kaká, Taarabt; Balotelli.
Subs: Amelia, Mexès, Abate, Constant, Zaccardo, Pazzini, Petagna.
Atlético (4-impossible to accurately describe, if not determine-1: Courtois; Juanfran, Godín, Miranda, Insua; Gabi, Mario Suárez; Koke, Raúl García, Arda Turan; Diego Costa.
Subs: Aranzubia, Alderweireld, Cristian Rodríguez, Sosa, Diego, Adrián López, Villa.
Almost definitely better than every single Premier League bungler: Pedro Proença
Diego Costa; the state of. On which point: are sportsmen who refuse to dress smartly to be lauded for refusing to succumb to the nonsense that is syoots, or scruffy shlochs who are unaware of the circumstances that surrounded their entry into the world?
Awwwww. Isn’t little Kevin-Prince just adorable! Just like the way he generously bestowed himself upon Ghana when they qualified for the World Cup, then retired from international football, then changed his mind when they reached another World Cup and generously bestowed himself once more. Oh!
Preamble One of the many and great
horrificities peculiarities about other people is finding that the things we like about them are also the things that we don’t like. The ability to love us, for example.
And that’s your “Champions League”. On the one hand, it’s always very brilliant, not something that can be said of very much. But, on the other and in identical aspect, it’s a protectionist racket that facilitates brutal wealth, absurd nationalism, and vomitous entities. On the one hand, it brings us surprise but legitimate thrills, like Dynamo Kiev in 1998, Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 and Porto in 2004. But, on the other and in identical aspect, the aforementioned quickly pillage their most valuable assets - hell, it’s even happened to Borussia Dortmund, last season’s finalists and the club with Europe’s highest average attendance. On the one hand, there is generally a goodly selection of clubs with a goodly shot at winning at it. But, on the other and in identical aspect, the accordant prize money ringfences domestic titles, winnable only by frequent competitors.
So, here we are with Club Atlético de Madrid (have that, get us). On the one hand, they’re really very good, a lot better than most expected. But, on the other and in identical aspect, the chances are they’ll end up with nowt. On the one hand, we should just shut up and enjoy them. But, on the other and in identical aspect, they’ve only a few months left. On the one hand, they could win this competition. But, on the other and in identical aspect, just another couple of good seasons and they’ll be in prime position to decimate everyone in their division, save the two dogs with even sharper fangs.
Still, let’s try and focus on what we’re here for. Along with Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, PSG and Chelsea, Atléti (yeah, what?) have a shot at winning this thing. They’re not favourites, but so far this season, they’ve beaten Madrid, drawn with Barcelona, and ravaged as many points as both. And, most importantly, are able call upon a variety of serious players, men who can make the difference when the games are somehow simultaneously big and tight. Thibaut Courtois, Koke, Arda Turan, Dayvid Viller and Diego Costa? Oh, go on.
And then there’s Milan. They have some good players, but they’re rubbish. They’ve no chance of winning the competition, but have good enough players to sort this tie out. Their manager’s a novice, but has made damn sure they know what’s expected of them.
Or, put another way, we’re screwed; beautifully so, but so. What a world.
Daniel will be here shortly.