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Milan hold Barça in Group H summit meeting

AC Milan 1-1 FC Barcelona
Robinho and Lionel Messi exchanged first-half goals as the top two teams in Group H shared the spoils at San Siro.

Milan hold Barça in Group H summit meeting
Milan hold Barça in Group H summit meeting ©UEFA.com

Lionel Messi scored his fourth goal in two UEFA Champions League games this season as FC Barcelona came from behind to draw 1-1 at AC Milan and stay top of Group H.

Milan took Barcelona by surprise during a brilliant start and went ahead through Robinho after a nice combination with Kaká. The visitors responded quickly with Messi's equaliser and began to control proceedings, creating a good number of chances. Milan, though, defended well and had their own share of opportunities as they remained unbeaten and second behind the Catalan side in the section.

With Mario Balotelli only on the bench due to a thigh injury, home coach Massimiliano Allegri opted to deploy Robinho as a false No9, with Kaká and Valter Birsa in support. The tactic worked well from kick-off. Sulley Muntari had already seen a goal disallowed for offside when Robinho gave Milan a ninth-minute lead with a precise low shot after an exquisite one-two with Kaká.

Milan's advantage, however, lasted all of 14 minutes as the Rossoneri lost possession in midfield, allowing Andrés Iniesta to burst forward and find Messi on the right. The Argentina forward cut inside and beat Marco Amelia with a low shot at the near post despite pressure from two Milan defenders.

The hosts went close to regaining the initiative soon after but Philippe Mexès headed just wide from Robinho's corner. Neymar then sent a powerful strike wide at the other end while Alexis Sánchez's volley – from a splendid long ball by Iniesta – lacked the necessary bite to trouble Amelia. Barcelona seemed to have found the answer to Milan's tactic and threatened again moments before the interval when Neymar hit a wonderful volley centimetres wide.

Barcelona continued to attack after the break yet it was Robinho who wasted a great chance for 2-1 when he failed to make contact with a low ball from the left by Muntari, with only Víctor Valdés to beat. For Gerardo Martino's Blaugrana, Xavi Hernández released Iniesta with a trademark defence-splitting pass but Amelia dived well to his right to save the midfielder's effort.

While Allegri replaced a tired Robinho with Balotelli, it was Barça who came on strong – Adriano firing wide from close range after a fine pass by Messi. The Spanish champions pushed for victory until the final whistle but Milan held firm defensively to secure a good point ahead of the teams' rematch at the Camp Nou on 6 November.