A single goal from Filippo Inzaghi was enough for AC Milan to secure a 1-0 win over BV Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion in UEFA Champions League Group C.
In a tight game, chances were at a premium, but Inzaghi’s striking instincts were the difference between the sides. The win means Carlo Ancelotti’s sides go into the winter break having won both of their Champions League games so far in this group.
Both coaches had selection problems ahead of kick-off, with Milan missing Gennaro Gattuso with a thigh injury, while Rivaldo was also suffering with a thigh problem and was only fit enough to sit on the substitute’s bench. For Dortmund, experienced defender Stefan Reuter missed out with an inflamed knee.
The game began brightly in bitterly cold conditions, and it was immediately clear that both sides would work hard to deny their opponents time and space on the ball. However, Inzaghi might have given his side the lead after three minutes, as he beat the Dortmund offside trap and raced through, but Christoph Metzelder did well to come across and cleared the danger.
Much of remainder of the half was spent in midfield, with both team pressing their opponents hard and defences well on top. The two teams were reduced to shooting from distance, with Kakha Kaladze volleying just over from the edge of the Dortmund penalty area, while efforts from Jörg Heinrich and Tomáš Rosický for the home side were also off target.
Both strike forces struggled to make an impact, although Andriy Shevchenko came more into the game as the half wore on, while Jan Koller’s height consistently caused Milan problems.
After such a tight first period, it was a surprise when Dortmund came out after half-time in much more positive fashion, as they pressed Milan back in the opening stages. However, when the breakthrough finally arrived five minutes after the interval, it was the away side who got it.
Inzaghi on target
There initially seemed little danger as Clarence Seedorf played the ball forward but, with the Dortmund defence seemingly waiting for an offside flag, Inzaghi raced on to the pass and beat Lehmann with a left-foot shot for his ninth Champions League goal this season.
Dortmund continued to press forward, but still struggled to find a way through the Milan defence. Substitute Lars Ricken volleyed just wide with his first touch, Metzelder burst through but put his shot just too high, before Marcio Amoroso took too long when presented with a clear shooting chance.
However, for all their apparent composure, the away side could well have let their lead slip in added time, as first Rosický hit a powerful shot from 25 metres that came back off the crossbar with Dida beaten, before a last–gasp free-kick lead to a huge goalmouth scramble involving all 22 players that ended only when a grateful Dida pounced on Giuseppe Reina’s shot.