AC Milan secured a gutsy 2-2 draw against European champions FC Barcelona thanks to goals in the first and final seconds of an absorbing match in Catalonia.
Pato gave the visitors a dream start when he notched the quickest matchday one goal in UEFA Champions League history, only for Pedro Rodríguez and David Villa, showpiece scorers last term, to reply either side of half-time. After a Lionel Messi masterclass it looked as if Josep Guardiola's side would top Group H, only for Thiago Silva's added-time header to restrict them to a point.
Milan's opener, after 25 seconds, was a mixture of audacity, vision and power. Pato swivelled in midfield and spotted that centre-backs Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets were holding a high line. His explosive burst between them left the pair in his wake. Pato then dealt with Víctor Valdés, celebrated for his one-on-one saves, by calmly slotting under the advancing keeper. A marvellous way to inaugurate the new season.
It was immediately clear that Massimilliano Allegri had ordered Pato to unleash his pace with Barcelona club captain Carles Puyol starting on the bench. The striker continued to cause trouble until Guardiola placed Éric Abidal on man-marking duties. With ten minutes gone, the hosts had reasserted themselves.
Messi began his personal vendetta against the shock scoreline by forcing Christian Abbiati's first save. For the next 24 minutes it was, simply, the Messi show. His follow-up was a free-kick cracked off Abbiati's left-hand post and just before the half-hour the keeper needed a strong hand to block the Argentinian's low shot. Then again; the breakthrough was imminent.
Barcelona's mercurial No10 was, inevitably, at the heart of it, leaving Mark van Bommel, Alessandro Nesta and Ignazio Abate standing with a searing burst of pace before squaring for Pedro to tap in the equaliser. Both sides made enforced changes before the break – Massimo Ambrosini for Kevin-Prince Boateng and Cesc Fàbregas for Andrés Iniesta.
Within five minutes of the restart Barcelona underlined their champion credentials. From 30 metres Villa hammered a free-kick into Abbiati's top right corner to make it 2-1. The goal brought further Barça possession, but no reward as Milan drew on every shred of experience to stay in the match – harassing, pressing and sniffing openings. Two minutes into added time Clarence Seedorf's corner created one and Thiago emphatically pounced.
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