A thumping defeat at Camp Nou left seven-time European champions AC Milan demoralised and wondering whether one single moment of calm amidst 90 tempestuous minutes against the 2011 UEFA Champions League winners might have cost them progress in this season's tournament.
While Massimiliano Allegri's side worked like Trojans and were in with a shout until Jordi Alba's added-time breakaway goal made it 4-0, they spent the majority of the night in Barcelona trying to cope with a rhythm of play they simply do not encounter in Serie A. Yet, when the score was still only 1-0 thanks to Lionel Messi's fifth-minute goal, a misplaced header from Javier Mascherano allowed M'Baye Niang to race away, steady himself and slide a shot past the advancing Victor Valdés which thumped back off the keeper's right-hand post. A crucial twist of fate, according to Mathieu Flamini.
Mathieu Flamini, Milan midfielder
I think Barcelona played a great game. They played unbelievable football, with very quick passing. It's true we had the opportunity to score in the first half when Niang hit the post, but we didn't take it. If you don't score when you have such a chance then things become very difficult. There's not much more to say – Barça played great.
Of course, we knew this was a big team, that they play quick passing, quick football and today they produced the better game. We didn't really play well, we had problems getting out of defence – everything went well for them and we couldn't get that goal which might have changed things.
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