Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez (top) challenges for the ball with AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati during their Champions League first leg quarterfinals match at the San Siro stadium in Milan Wednesday. — AP
PARIS – A superb defensive display by AC Milan saw it draw 0-0 with holder Barcelona Wednesday while four-time winner Bayern Munich took a giant step towards the Champions League semifinals with a 2-0 away win over Marseille.
Milan’s defense will have to produce a repeat performance against Barca next Tuesday and hope for an away goal of its own if it is to progress and face either Chelsea or Benfica in the semifinals – the English side leads 1-0 after Tuesday’s first leg.
Bayern by contrast can all but look towards the semi-finals – where it is likely to play Real Madrid as the nine-time champion beat APOEL Nicosia 3-0 away Tuesday – after goals by Mario Gomez, his 11th of the campaign, and Arjen Robben edged it ever closer to the final which is being hosted at their stadium.
The results on Wednesday created a bit of history as it is the first time since it turned into the Champions League that none of the home sides in the quarterfinal first legs have managed to score.
Chances were at a premium in Milan as the grizzled veterans such as Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta once again showed that the legs may get older but that class never goes away in denying Lionel Messi and his fellow stars from scoring.
Indeed Milan spurned the clearest chance as Brazilian star Robinho skied the ball over the bar from a few yards out in the opening minutes.
Barca appealed for a first-half penalty when Milan ‘keeper Christian Abbiati clearly made contact with Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez – though the attacker had no chance of recuperating the ball – but Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson turned them down.
Bayern Munich’s win condemned Marseille to an eighth defeat in nine matches.
With Steve Mandanda suspended, Marseille coach Didier Deschamps chose to field third-choice goalkeeper Elinton Andrade but the move backfired in the 44th minute when the Brazilian allowed Gomez’s shot to slip beneath him.
The 32-year-old was making his first appearance since January 2011 and he was beaten again by Robben in the 69th minute as Bayern took a commanding grip on the tie ahead of next Tuesday’s return leg.
Barca complains to UEFA
over San Siro pitch
Barcelona on Thursday said they had complained to UEFA over the state of the pitch at the San Siro.
“FC Barcelona has lodged a complaint with UEFA over the state of the pitch at the Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro) stadium during the Champions League match,” the Catalan giants said on their web site. — Agencies