PSV Eindhoven defeated AC Milan in a home UEFA Champions League encounter for the second time this year. But unlike last season's ultimately futile semi-final victory, this 1-0 win gives them an excellent chance of progressing as Group E winners.
The result was definitely a triumph for youth over the Milan old guard, with the home side fielding two teenagers and the winner coming from 21-year old Jefferson Farfán. Indeed, the biggest surprise in PSV's starting lineup was the inclusion of midfielder Ismaïl Aisatti, Guus Hiddink staying true to his pre-match statement that he would not hesitate to hand the 17-year-old his full debut if the situation demanded it.
Experienced defender Michael Reiziger, fleetingly a Milan player, dropped to the bench as the coach fielded an attacking XI, while Alberto Gilardino partnered Christian Vieri in attack for the visitors. Former PSV favourite Jaap Stam started at right-back for the Rossoneri, but ended with a premature exit after collecting a second yellow card in the 84th minute.
The game started briskly with the first clear opening arriving as early as the first minute, Dida saving a Phillip Cocu header. Less than 60 seconds later, Vieri shot straight at Heurelho Gomes from the edge of the box following a mistake by Cocu. Both teams continued to play at a high tempo, pushing forward at every opportunity, and it was no surprise when PSV took the lead after eleven minutes. Kakha Kaladze only succeeded in heading a speculative clearance by Gomes into the path of Farfán, leaving the Peruvian international to stride into the area and smash a low drive in off Dida's near post.
Milan playmaker Andrea Pirlo curled a free-kick narrowly over soon after, but it was only Dida's instinctive block after 20 minutes that prevented fellow Brazilian Alex doubling PSV's advantage with a powerful header. Last season's UEFA Champions League runners-up were determined to pull level, and came within centimetres of doing so as a powerful long-range effort from Clarence Seedorf whistled past Gomes's right-hand post just after the half-hour mark. The keeper was almost embarrassed after 37 minutes, recovering to knock the ball behind after almost punching Seedorf's corner into his net.
Succession of corners
As the half drew to an end, the visitors pushed deeper into PSV territory, forcing a succession of corners. Gomes had to get down smartly to parry a Vieri snap-shot, and the same player buzzed another effort just wide moments before the break. Milan coach Fabio Capello responded by adding width to his left flank by bringing on Serginho and Marek Jankulovski for Gennaro Gattuso and Kaladze, yet DaMarcus Beasley carved out the first real chance, evading two challenges and cutting in from the left before drilling in a low attempt that Dida turned behind.
PSV hold firm
A deflected Seedorf strike then almost sneaked in under the bar before Hiddink substituted midfielder Ibrahim Afellay for full-back Reiziger, a sign that his side were content to defend their lead. However, Cocu kept Dida busy with a stinging low shot seconds later, while Milan were finding it difficult to break PSV down aside from Paolo Maldini heading Pirlo's free-kick over.
Ancelotti took a final gamble by introducing Andriy Shevchenko in the 74th minute, and within 60 seconds the fit-again Ukrainian unleashed a spectacular free-kick which produced a save of equal merit from Gomes. Milan's task got even more difficult when Stam, booked in the 45th minute, picked up another caution for hauling down Beasley. It said much for PSV's performance that Aisatti went closest to scoring late on, firing an effort from outside the area just over. Still, it was a debut to remember.