Fri, Feb 22, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Beaten Barca unhappy with pitch

AFP, MILAN, Italy

AC Milan’s Riccardo Montolivo, center, walks away from Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, left, and Daniel Alves following a tackle in their Champions League match on Wednesday at the San Siro in Milan, Italy.

Photo: Reuters

Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura hit out at the state of the pitch after his side were left staring at an early UEFA Champions League exit following a shock 2-0 reverse to AC Milan on Wednesday.

Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari scored one apiece in the second half as the hosts stunned the Catalans in their round-of-16, first-leg match at the San Siro.

Roura, standing in for Tito Vilanova while the coach undergoes cancer treatment in New York, admitted his side had simply not done enough, but the 45-year-old, whose own playing career was virtually ended at the San Siro in 1989 when he suffered a serious knee injury while playing for Barcelona, also claimed the pitch was unfit for a Champions League game.

“It’s bad to lose 2-0, but we’re convinced that when we’ll be playing at home in front of our own fans on a pitch that is fit for this competition, we will overcome this setback,” Roura said.

For Massimiliano Allegri, the win was more than welcome.

The Rossoneri coach was lucky to avoid the sack after a disastrous start to the Serie A season, but has overseen a significant improvement since then.

“It’s a great and deserved win for us,” Allegri said. “We worked hard as a club to prepare for this match and the lads did a great job. We could have perhaps done better with the chances we had in the first half and finished the game with a third goal, but we never believed we would be going to the Camp Nou with a 2-0 advantage.”

Boateng caused the stadium to erupt in the 57th minute with a superb opener after Stephan El Shaarawy won a free-kick.

Riccardo Montolivo’s long-range shot appeared to bounce off the hand of Cristian Zapata, before falling fortuitously for Boateng, who beat Victor Valdes with a superb strike from the edge of the area.

An Andres Iniesta effort from long range that shaved the far post was as close as the visitors came to scoring, but soon after that they fell further behind.

Nine minutes from time, M’Baye Niang and El Shaarawy combined, with the latter’s fine flick setting up Muntari to lash in the second goal.

Galatasaray v Schalke

AFP, ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Galatasaray midfielder Nordin Amrabat has admitted the Turkish team face an uphill task to stay in the UEFA Champions League after their 1-1 draw at home to Schalke 04 in their round-of-16 first-leg match.

The Royal Blues take a slim advantage back to Germany for the return leg after Burak Yilmaz gave Galatasaray an early lead, before Jermaine Jones leveled for Schalke on the stroke of halftime.

“The formula for victory is very simple: we need to score and win, but it won’t be easy,” Amrabat said after Wednesday’s game.

Schalke 04 ignored poor recent form to hold the hosts and could have left the Turk Telekom Arena with a win after missing a host of chances as Galatasaray, including star signings Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, failed to fire.

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