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Barca flair hits Milan wall

Thiago Silva powered home a header in the second minute of stoppage time to steal a 2-2 draw for AC Milan at holders Barcelona in the heavyweight pair's Champions League Group H opener on Tuesday. Coach speak

sports Updated: Sep 15, 2011 03:07 IST

Thiago Silva powered home a header in the second minute of stoppage time to steal a 2-2 draw for AC Milan at holders Barcelona in the heavyweight pair's Champions League Group H opener on Tuesday. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/15_09_11-Metro23.jpg

Barca had recovered from conceding the fifth quickest ever goal in Europe's elite club competition, scored by Alexandre Pato after 24 seconds, through strikes from Pedro and David Villa. Once ahead they quickly settled into a rhythm, enjoying almost 70 percent of possession, but failed to kill off the seven-times champions and surrendered the lead for a second consecutive game following Saturday's 2-2 La Liga draw at Real Sociedad.

Saviour Messi

Around 90,000 home fans packed into the Nou Camp were stunned into near-silence seconds after the start when striker Pato left the home defence for dead and beat goalkeeper Victor Valdes with a low shot.

With captain Carles Puyol only declared fit this week after knee surgery and his partner in central defence Gerard Pique sidelined, Guardiola deployed midfielders Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano at the back.

Barca created a slew of chances for an equaliser before Lionel Messi, after striking a curling freekick against the post, once again came to the rescue.

The Argentina forward, top scorer in the competition the past three seasons, danced through the Milan defence to the byline and squared for Pedro to rifle home with goalkeeper Christian Abbiati stranded. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/15_09_11-Metro23b.jpg

Barca had recovered their customary poise and a goal had long been coming when Villa stepped up to crack the ball into the top corner from 30 metres. The home side were in total control until fullback Eric Abidal conceded a stoppage-time corner. Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf swung the ball over for Silva to claim an unlikely point.

Few milan attacks

Milan were missing injured striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic among others, and coach Massimiliano Allegri opted to use Pato and Antonio Cassano in a two-pronged attack.

Pato threatened to score a second several times during the first half hour before fading out of the game, while Italy forward Cassano looked short on fitness and was replaced by Urby Emanuelson after an hour.

Iniesta injured

Barcelona's night was further soured by the injury to midfielder Andres Iniesta will be out of action for one month after picking up a thigh injury.

The club said he tore a muscle in his left thigh as he dribbled past defender Ignazio Abate in the 38th minute. He pulled up after the run and was replaced by Cesc Fabregas.