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Joyous Málaga hold off Milan to seal progress

AC Milan 1-1 Málaga CF
The visitors may have dropped their first points of the group stage but they held out for the draw at San Siro which confirms their place in the last 16.

Joyous Málaga hold off Milan to seal progress
Joyous Málaga hold off Milan to seal progress ©UEFA.com

Málaga CF continued their dream debut season in the UEFA Champions League as they held off an AC Milan fightback to secure the draw which puts them in the round of 16 with two games to spare.

An individual piece of brilliance by Isco allowed Eliseu to give the visitors the lead five minutes before the interval. Pato restored parity in the second half with a close-range header and, although the Rossoneri pushed for a winner, they could not end Málaga's unbeaten start. While the Spanish side progress, Milan stay second in Group C with five points, one clear of RSC Anderlecht.

Milan started with an attacking lineup but it was Málaga who enjoyed most of the possession in the early exchanges. Even so, the two goalkeepers were not really troubled until the 19th minute when Willy dived to his left to palm away a dangerous shot by Bojan Krkić from the edge of the box, after the forward had dribbled past Ignacio Camacho with a nice nutmeg.

The former FC Barcelona man made another good run down the right soon after and found Stephan El Shaarawy with a precise pass yet the forward's first-time shot was blocked by the body of Málaga captain Weligton. Milan continued to attack and Willy was forced into another wonderful stop as he clawed away a curling free-kick by Urby Emanuelson which was destined for the top corner.

Against the run of play, however, it was Málaga who went in front with their first clear opportunity of the match. Isco caught Milan's defence square with a wonderful pass for Eliseu. With only Christian Abbiati to beat, the Portuguese midfielder made no mistake, finding the far corner via a precise low shot – his third goal in the competition.

After the restart, another cute pass by Bojan found a well-placed Emanuelson but the Dutch midfielder failed to find the right angle with his left-footed effort, allowing Willy to make a comfortable save. Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri replaced a tired El Shaarawy with Kevin-Prince Boateng, while Manuel Pellegrini responded by introducing Roque Santa Cruz for Javier Saviola.

Just as Milan looked destined to be foiled by a Málaga defence which had not conceded in the previous three games, Kévin Constant sent in a perfect cross from the left and Pato headed in at the far post with 17 minutes to play. The Liga outfit fought off late Milan pressure and although they dropped their first points of the group stage, they were more than happy with the draw.