Twelve months ago as a PSV Eindhoven player, Mark van Bommel was left with thoughts of what might have been after Massimo Ambrosini dramatically scored in added time to send AC Milan into the UEFA Champions League final. It was the same players, different script on Tuesday night as the Italian spurned a late chance to ensure Van Bommel's FC Barcelona left the San Siro with a 1-0 first-leg victory from another semi-final tie.
Speaking to uefa.com, the Netherlands midfielder said it was a case of déjà vu as the Milan substitute ran on to Kaká's ball behind the Barça defence in the 81st minute: "Ambrosini had a great chance to score the equaliser but fortunately for us, he didn't take it. He's proved himself to be a very dangerous player but the fact he missed means this is a very good result for us. Last year, at PSV, we played two very good games against Milan but didn't get through. Hopefully we will this year."
A crucial part of a PSV team whose success relied on outstanding effort from every player, Van Bommel cannot expect such iconic status at Camp Nou with Ronaldinho as the star attraction. The Brazilian was at his effervescent best again in Milan, playing a wonderful pass over the home defence from which Ludovic Giuly cracked in his first European goal in Barça colours in the 57th minute. "It was a great strike and a great victory," continued Van Bommel, who will have further cause for celebration when he turns 29 on Saturday.
"Technically we were very organised and stuck to our tactical plan. Even though it wasn't the best game to watch, we did what we had to do to get the win." The fixture also placed Van Bommel and the man he has replaced in the Dutch national side, Clarence Seedorf, in direct opposition, something the Barcelona man enjoyed. "It's always nice to play against a fellow countryman," he said. "Last year we met twice at this stage and he got lucky in the end. Maybe I'll be the lucky one this year." He will know next week.
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