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Defiance favours the brave

Holders Barcelona were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at AC Milan in their Champions League quarter-final first leg as the attacking prowess of Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was all but nullified on Wednesday.

sports Updated: Mar 30, 2012 02:46 IST

Holders Barcelona were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at AC Milan in their Champions League quarter-final first leg as the attacking prowess of Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was all but nullified on Wednesday.


Milan succeeded where nine teams before them had failed by preventing Messi from scoring in a game which started brightly but was ultimately a disappointment.

However, the stalemate sets up an intriguing second leg at the Nou Camp next Tuesday when a scoring draw for seven-times European champions Milan would put them through.

Messi had a 17th-minute effort ruled out for offside and dominant Barca had a strong shout for a penalty when Alexis Sanchez went down but Milan had chances too, Robinho hooking over early on and Ibrahimovic wasting an excellent position. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/3/30_03_12-metro22.jpg

Argentine world player of the year Messi was agonisingly close to snatching a late win for the Spaniards when he was blocked at close-range by goalkeeper Christian Abbiati, with Massimo Ambrosini blocking Tello's effort from the rebound.

Ambrosini typified the defiant attitude of the Italian champions when, having blocked Tello's effort, he celebrated wildly.

Messi had scored 21 goals in his last nine outings for club and country, his extraordinary run including a five-goal haul, one of four goals and two hat-tricks, He has netted a Spanish record of 55 in all competitions this season.

Had he scored on Wednesday, the 24-year-old would have taken his Champions League tally to 13 for the season, a new record. There was, though, no way through a Milan defence superbly held together by Philippe Mexes and 36-year-old Alessandro Nesta, standing in for the injured Thiago Silva.

Allegri had promised that his team would attack Barcelona and not use spoiling tactics, but that is exactly what they did for most of the second half.

Marseille all but out of contention
Marseille: Bayern Munich put one foot in the last four of the Champions League with a clinical victory in Marseille on Wednesday but five yellow cards and a suspension for Bastian Schweinsteiger left coach Jupp Heynckes fuming.

Dutch winger Arjen Robben shone on a bright night for Bayern at the Stade Velodrome and a 2-0 victory put them firmly on course for a semi-final meeting with Real Madrid, who won 3-0 at APOEL Nicosia on Tuesday. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/3/30_03_12-metro22b.jpg

Heynckes refused to accept that his team were through but his concern that seven of his players were a booking away from suspension indicated that he had half an eye on a meeting with Jose Mourinho's team.

Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos, David Alaba and Anatolyi Tymoshuk joined Jerome Boateng and Thomas Mueller on a list of players who would miss a game if they receive another yellow, while Schwein-steiger will be suspended.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/3/30_03_12-metro22c.jpg