MILAN 2-0 CELTIC – Izaguirre OG 82 (Milan), Muntari 86 (Milan)
It only took four minutes for Milan to test Fraser Forster in the Celtic goal, with Mario Balotelli volleying a powerful strike towards the English goalkeeper who pushed it away. Milan’s early pressure didn’t last long, and Celtic had their first chance when referee Wolfgang Stark gave an absurd indirect free kick for a supposed pass back. The Milan players vehemently protested the decision, but nothing came of the opportunity as Constant charged down Mulgrew’s shot to send the ball out for a corner.
Soon after, Milan had their second real chance of the game, when Alessandro Matri’s near post header was well saved. Milan were happy to let Celtic have the ball, but the Bhoys from Scotland never really tested Abbiati’s goal. Milan often forced the killer ball, and attempts on goal became a rarity. Celtic found some joy down the right in the last five minutes of the first half, but it was the Rossoneri who came close in injury time when Balotelli’s deflected shot was palmed away for a corner by Fraser Forster.
The start of the second half was all Celtic, and in the fiftieth minute Samaras’ long shot went inches wide of the post. Celtic kept possession well, and opportunities were wasted when Samaras fluffed a header, and Commons failed his attempted bicycle kick, but they were nearly punished by Milan when Muntari squandered a golden header in the six yard box from a superb Constant cross. Celtic broke quickly from a Balotelli free kick, and it took a beautifully timed sliding tackle from De Jong to prevent Brown from slotting past Abbiati.
Celtic began to tire in the last twenty minutes, but Milan’s effectiveness in the final third was woeful at best. Celtic’s Stokes cracked a free kick against the bar, but it was Milan who broke the deadlock with eight minutes to go. Cristian Zapata’s strike was going well off target, but a ricochet off Izaguirre sent it into the bottom corner. It was a huge slice of luck for Milan, who had been lucky not to be a goal down. Five minutes later Balotelli’s free kick was palmed away spectacularly by Fraser Forster, but it fell into the path of Muntari who tucked it away to seal the victory for Milan.
Milan’s performance was far from convincing, and they will be the first to admit that. The team failed to show hardly any cohesion, and with several wayward passes, most Milanisti will be extremely concerned when heading into the crunch tie against Napoli on Sunday night. The only positive Milan can have is that they managed to grind out a victory, that could become vital if Milan have any hope of getting out of this group.
Play-by-Play(By Mark Neale)
The game started with the the home side keeping possession and in the 4th minute Mario Balotelli forced a save from Celtic goalkeeper Forster from a good Birsa cross. 2 minutes later and Zaccardo had a shot after good play from Milan striker Matri. Good early pressure from the home side almost resulted in a goal when Forster came off his line to save at the feet of Birsa after a good through ball from Matri.
Celtic where a little more direct in the use of the ball compared to Milan but neither side showing true quality.
In the 16th minute German referee Stark gave a rather bizarre free-kick to Celtic in the Milan penalty area, the indirect free-kick from Mulgrew was blocked almost on the line by De Jong. This was the start of some good pressure from the Scottish champions.
After 25 minutes Milan had made 105 passes completing 80% compared to 61 passes of which Celtic completed 66%.
Celtic continued to grow into the game as the Milan front line started to look more and more isolated.
Anthony Stokes was gifted a chance after a poor pass from Birsa but Mexes came back to block the shot. Time added on at the end of the 1st half saw 2 good chances for the Italians when Balotelli had a shot deflected by Ambrose forcing Forster into a good save. The resulting corner ended up at the feet of Muntari but his shot blazed over.
Half-time both sides lacking real quality and the home side’s lack of pressing of Celtic in their half was a cause of frustration for the Italian fans.
Half time Milan 0-0 Celtic
Celtic started the second half the better side and in the 48th minute a Mulgrew corner was headed by Lustig but was blocked. Samaras made a good run and his shot was just past the post in the 51st minute.
Milan had a good spell of pressure finding a foothold in the game, shot from both Balotelli and Nocerino both blocked by Celtic without causing real danger. A feature of Milans play was how deep they had started to drop when Celtic had possession.
60th minute and a real scramble in the Milan 6 yard box when a Stokes cross was mis headed by Samaras but it fell to Mulgrew whose overhead kick was finally cleared by Constant.
After an hour gone and possession was Milan 47% Celtic 53%
In the 62nd minute and somehow Muntari somehow headed wide from about 4 yards from a great Constant cross!
First change of the night and Emanuelson comes on for the ineffective Birsa in the 63rd minute.
64th minute and a great run by the impressive Matthews whose pace was causing Milan left-back Constant real problems , found Lustig whose cross was palmed by Milan keeper Abbiati straight to Samaras but his shot was blocked.
64th minute and the 1st yellow card was given to Celtic defender Ambrose for a foul on Muntari just outside the box but the following free-kick was hit straight into the wall by Balotelli, from that Celtic broke and only a great last ditch tackle by De Jong prevented Celtic captain Brown getting a shot off just inside the Milan box.
Milan pressure growing and in the 70th minute a good ball by Balotelli finding Matri out wide his cross found Zaccardo but his shot cum cross ended in nothing.
Celtic made a change in the 76th minute former Ajax player Boerrigter replaced the impressive Matthews. Mulgrew received a yellow card for persistent fouling. 77th minute and striker Pukki replaced Commons and Robinho came on for Milan to replace Constant.
80th minute and after a foul by De Jong on Pukki which was 25 metres from goal and in a central position, Stokes stepped up and rattled the Milan crossbar!
After good link up play between Balotelli and Robinho just outside the Celtic box a pass to Milan defender Zapata and his shot deflected of Izaguirre to find the bottom corner of the Celtic goal!
Milan 1-0 Celtic.
In the 84th and a free kick given to Milan for a foul by Brown on Balotelli for which Brown was booked resulted in further punishment when Balotelli’s free-kick was saved by Forster but he could only parry the ball to the onrushing Muntari who scored!
Milan 2-0 Celtic
To sure up the midfield to see out the result Poli replaced Matri and with a minute to go Mulgrew was replaced by Biton
4 minutes of added time passed to see Milan secure a win over the Scottish champions who can feel a little unlucky not to leave Italy with something
Final score Milan 2-0 Celtic
Milan Lineup – Manager: Max Allegri
Abbiati – Zaccardo – Mexes – Zapata – Constant (Robinho, 75) – Nocerino – De Jong – Muntari – Birsa (Emanuelson, 64) – Balotelli – Matri (Poli, 86)
Celtic Lineup – Manager: Neil Lennon
Forster – Lustig – Van Dijk – Ambrose – Izaguirre – Matthews (Boerrigter, 74) – Brown – Mulgrew (Biton, 89) – Samaras – Commons (Pukki, 77) – Stokes
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (GER)
Stadium: San Siro (Milan)