Pato double downs Madrid
AC Milan moved top of Champions League Group C after a 3-2 win over Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu.
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 21/10/09 10:52pm
AC Milan moved top of UEFA Champions League Group C after a 3-2 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
On a night which saw goalkeeping gaffes and great finishes in equal measure, Real took the lead midway through the first-half with Raul on target.
And the Real legend will not have had an easier goal, as Dida inexplicably dropped Esteban Granero's shot straight into Raul's path and he slotted into an empty net.
Then there was a moment of magic on the hour as Milan levelled, very much against the run of play. Andrea Pirlo carried the ball from 40 yards out towards the Real box and unleashed an unstoppable dipping drive past Iker Casillas at his near post.
Then it was Casillas' turn to hang his head as he came out of this box to intercept Massimo Ambrosini's long ball over the top, but he misjudged the bounce and Alexandre Pato took advantage as he controlled and fired home into the empty net.
Real, though, were soon level as not long after substitute Royston Drenthe collected a corner from Raul on the edge of the box before smashing it into the corner.
Milan then sealed a famous win with Pato grabbing his second, as he volleyed home with just minutes left after being found free in the box by Clarence Seedorf.
The victory takes Milan top, ahead of Madrid due to the fact they have won their head-to-head meeting, while Marseille move into third after winning in Zurich.
Madrid started brightly and should have had a penalty in the 14th minute after France striker Karim Benzema went crashing to the ground following a challenge from behind by Gianluca Zambrotta.
That incident was forgotten five minutes later when Madrid took the lead following Dida's error.
The Milan goalkeeper comfortably saved Granero's head-high shot but, in looking up to see where his team-mates were, he took his eye off the ball before he had complete control of it.
The subsequent fumble was pounced on by the alert Raul, who nicked the ball away from the Brazil keeper before side-footing into an empty net.
That was Raul's 66th Champions League goal and completed a memorable few days for the veteran forward, who before Saturday's home game with Real Valladolid was presented with a trophy for breaking Madrid's appearance record.
Raul's strike was the only thing that separated the two sides at the end of a closely-fought first half, with the only other decent effort coming from Marcelo on the stroke of half-time.
The dearth of chances in the first period was in stark contrast to the start of the second, when Madrid had four decent efforts in the opening 10 minutes.
Raul drove one wide of the far post, while Dida pluck his attempted chip out of the air.
The Brazilian goalkeeper partly made amends for his first-half howler as he produced fine saves to deny former Milan favourite Kaka and tip over Benzema's shot from outside the box.
With Milan offering little going forward and Ronaldinho anonymous, it looked only a matter of time before the home side increased their lead.
But completely against the run of play, Milan not only found an equaliser but also managed to take the lead in a remarkable four-minute spell that turned the game upside down.
Although not in the same league as Dida's earlier mistake, Madrid keeper Casillas may feel he could have done better with both of Milan's goals.
The first saw the Spain No.1 beaten at his right-hand post by Pirlo's 35-yard thunderbolt, and he then raced out to meet Ambrosini's through-ball only to see the ball slid past him off the rain-soaked surface and present Pato with an open net.
Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini, lacking Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Ruud van Nistelrooy through injury, opted to give Drenthe a chance and the move proved to be an inspired one as the Dutchman drew Madrid level with 14 minutes to go.
The former Feyenoord man has suffered from the Bernabeu boo-boys in the past, but he sent the stadium into raptures as he brought down Raul's corner on the edge of the box before drilling home a low left-footed shot just inside the post.
However, that was not enough to earn Madrid a point as Milan claimed the spoils thanks to Pato's late strike.
The visitors really should have gone ahead moments earlier when Thiago Silva saw an apparently good goal controversially ruled out after he headed home a corner.But Leonardo's men need not have worried as in the 88th minute former Madrid midfielder Seedorf picked out the unmarked Pato and he volleyed home at the far post.
|Real Madrid||Team Statistics||Milan|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|10||Shots on Target||4|
|7||Shots off Target||4|