AC Milan were forced to wait to make their breakthrough at the weekend but went on to win 3-0 to send a timely message to FC Bayern München.
AC Milan were forced to work hard for their points at the weekend but will nevertheless be confident of edging past FC Bayern München at the San Siro on Wednesday. The German side's coach Felix Magath also remains buoyant, despite his team suffering their first domestic defeat in their new stadium.
AC Milan 3-0 Empoli FC
The Rossoneri won 3-0 at home against struggling Empoli on Saturday, but the one-sided scoreline did not reflect the action as the visitors were kept at bay for much of the encounter. Filippo Inzaghi scored the crucial opener from close range just 13 minutes from time, and that opened the floodgates as Andriy Shevchenko added a second four minutes later before Inzaghi diverted in his strike-partner's late free-kick to seal an emphatic-looking victory. However, the scoreline failed to mask the performance for Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti, who said: "I could have changed everybody at the end of the first half. We were really bad; too slow, too passive, but we pushed harder after the break.
"I've not decided on the lineup against Bayern but I have options in every department," Ancelotti concluded. There are not too many choices in defence as Paolo Maldini and Cafu are still ruled out but Jaap Stam will be back having served his suspension. Midfielder Massimo Ambrosini missed out against Empoli as did Brazilian Dida so Australian Zeljko Kalac retained the goalkeeping jersey having made his Milan league debut in the 2-0 win at US Città di Palermo on 26 February. He marshalled a defence that included Alessandro Costacurta, 40 next month, to a second successive clean sheet. Alessandro Nesta, Serginho, Andrea Pirlo and Kaká could all return having been rested on Saturday evening.
FC Bayern München 1-2 Hamburger SV
Nigel de Jong's late strike proved decisive as Bayern suffered their first domestic defeat at their new Fußball Arena München home after 13 consecutive wins. The Bundesliga leaders looked to have earned a share of the spoils when Mehmet Scholl cancelled out Guy Demel's first-half goal seven minutes from time, but with just a minute to go Dutch international De Jong scored to consign Bayern to only their second Bundesliga defeat of the season, with the first coming in the reverse fixture against the same opponents.
"We lost against Hamburg in the first half of the season and did not become worse because of it," said Magath. "Instead, we left the others behind and if that happens again, I can live with this defeat." A miserable afternoon was completed when Iranian striker Ali Karimi sustained a foot injury that could keep him out for several weeks, joining Owen Hargreaves and Roque Santa Cruz on the sidelines. Bixente Lizarazu (leg) and José Paolo Guerrero (flu) also sat out Saturday's defeat, with Philipp Lahm and Roy Makaay taking their places, while Oliver Kahn returned to the side after recovering from a bruised thigh.