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A young PSV Eindhoven team showed great maturity to come from behind and record a well-deserved draw against AC Milan in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off.
The Eredivisie leaders dominated the opening 45 minutes, hitting the woodwork and forcing Christian Abbiati into several crucial saves. Yet the only goal of the half came at the other end courtesy of a well-placed Stephan El Shaarawy header. Tim Matavž restored parity on the hour to leave the contest wide open ahead of the return next Wednesday.
PSV almost took the lead in the first minute, but Adam Maher touched Matavž's shot a fraction wide of Abbiati's left-hand post. The whirlwind start continued as the Milan keeper saved from Georginio Wijnaldum before Cristián Zapata deflected Jetro Willems' goal-bound piledriver behind.
However, it was the Serie A giants who opened the scoring with their first attack. Ignazio Abate evaded Memphis Depay's challenge and crossed for the unmarked El Shaarawy to nod in. A minute later Jeroen Zoet tipped Mario Balotelli's shot onto the bar.
Yet still it was Abbiati who was the busier goalkeeper, the 36-year-old making two good blocks from Maher as Phillip Cocu's side attacked relentlessly. The lively PSV midfielder then hit the bar from just inside the box after outmuscling Zapata.
The Serie A team came out stronger after the break and only a superb interception by Willems at the back post prevented El Shaarawy from doubling his own, and his side's, tally. The hosts responded by giving the Rossoneri a taste of their own medicine and scoring against the run of play. Abbiati could not hold Jeffrey Bruma's swerving shot and Matavž gleefully headed in the rebound.
Milan almost forced a winner at the death, but Zoet made a fine save from substitute Andrea Poli to keep the game, and the final outcome, in the balance.
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