FC Barcelona shock AC Milan 1-0
Barcelona, whose only Champions title came in '92, are now fancied to wrap up the tie next week at home. The winner will meet either Arsenal or Villarreal.india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 17:06 IST
Barcelona took a huge step towards a place in the European Champions League final with a 1-0 victory at AC Milan in a high-profile first leg semi-final.
Frenchman Ludovic Giuly scored the winner on Tuesday for the Spanish league leaders in the 57th minute from a tight left angle after a superb through-ball from two-time World Footballer of the Year Ronaldinho.
Ronaldinho hit the left post seven minutes later but Milan were also unlucky when Alberto Gilardino was denied by the same left post in the 14th and missed the empty net in the 51st in front of an 80,000-strong crowd at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium.
Barcelona, whose only Champions title came in 1992, are now fancied to wrap up the tie next week Wednesday at home in the Nou Camp after handing Milan their first home defeat in the competition in 13 games since losing 1-0 against Belgian side Club Brugge in the autumn of 2003.
In the final on May 17 in Paris, the winner meets either England's Arsenal or Villarreal of Spain.
"We saw a tactical game from two teams. But we played well and controlled the game after the goal. Now we are in a good position in the semi-final tie," said Barcelona midfielder Marc van Bommel.
Barcelona's trademark ball possession in the early part of the game left Milan virtually no chance to threaten.
However, a first defence dithering almost proved fateful for the Spanish champions on 15 minutes when Gilardino struck the post from close range after a long throw-in.
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdez was entirely helpless, but a chance to show his skills came just two minutes later, when he flew on his left to slap away Andriy Shevchenko's header off Clarence Seedorf's cross.
Ronaldinho delighted the crowd with his class and inventiveness, but lacked precision on 28 minutes when he fired a free kick against the wall and aimed a feeble volley on the rebound for Dida's easy save.