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Portsmouth vs AC Milan. Europa League Group E.

Fratton ParkAttendance20,403.

Inzaghi spares Milan's blushes

Thursday 27 November 2008 22:36, UK

Image: Inzaghi: Broke Pompey hearts

Portsmouth came agonisingly close to humbling AC Milan in the Uefa Cup, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

Pompey let two-goal lead slip in Europe

Portsmouth came agonisingly close to humbling AC Milan in the Uefa Cup, but were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw. Second half goals from Younes Kaboul and Kanu had put the hosts in control, but a late Ronaldinho screamer and a scrappy effort from Filippo Inzaghi spared the Italians' blushes. It was the visitors who created the better of the chances during a lively opening period on the South Coast and they were unfortunate not to gain an early advantage. Italy international Inzaghi has built a career around feeding off scraps and came close to breaking the deadlock when he struck the inside of the post on 11 minutes. The experienced front-man was then only narrowly off target once again just before the half-hour mark when he broke clear to loft the ball over the onrushing David James and onto the top of the crossbar. Pompey were unable to carve openings of such calibre, although Peter Crouch proved to be a thorn in the Italians' defence with a typically bustling display. The home side did pose more of a threat after the break, and Glen Little saw a controlled volley flash into the side netting shortly after the restart. Then, on 62 minutes, all hell broke loose as Kaboul powered in a header from a pin-point Glen Johnson cross. The Pompey faithful must have thought things could not get any better, but they did 11 minutes later when Kanu was able to bundle home another Johnson delivery from the right. Inzaghi clipped the woodwork again with a header as Pompey became twitchy at the back, before Ronaldinho set up a grandstand finish with a sublime free-kick eight minutes from time. As the game ticked into injury-time, Inzaghi then broke English hearts as he was on hand to toe-poke past a stranded James and rescue a point for Carlo Ancelotti's men.

Thrills

On a marvellous night of thrills, the chances came thick and fast with Inzaghi shooting against a post after Andriy Shevchenko's 10th-minute free-kick from 40 yards pierced the Pompey wall. James thanked his lucky stars when the ball bounced off the woodwork straight into his arms. And his relief was obvious again when Inzaghi, still a predator at 35, and Shevchenko both spurned good opportunities. Kaka jabbed his shot over the bar at full stretch after Sylvain Distin could only half clear, and Inzaghi's lob was also just too high as he ran through after a deflection. But Pompey were making chances too, and Milan keeper Dida appeared to misjudge Johnson's cross completely before finally grabbing it off Crouch's head. It was truly end-to-end stuff with the dangerous Inzaghi nearly stealing in again before Johnson and Distin tidied up. Then a diving Crouch headed Johnson's cross wide in 36th minute just after Philippe Senderos blocked him off going for the nippy Nadir Belhadj's neat delivery. Kaka was lucky not to be booked for some crude hacking at Little's heels and Milan were having to get physical to combat Pompey's impressive fighting spirit. The Italians had long given up their early plan of ball retention to meet their vibrant hosts head-on in an exciting battle.
Hopes
Pompey had to play without the injured Jermain Defoe, Sol Campbell, Niko Kranjcar and the massively influential Lassana Diarra. They needed at least a draw to keep their hopes of third-round qualification alive after a 3-0 defeat in Portugal against Braga last month. Milan, with two Uefa Cup group-phase wins under their belt already, were virtually through even if beaten at Fratton Park. It was still fast and furious after the break, though, and when Kanu got through down the left and sent a far-post cross beyond Crouch, the roaring home crowd thought winger Little had scored as he followed up but his shot had lodged into the outside of the netting. There was no doubt about £5million defender Kaboul's strike though, as he rose for Johnson's cross after Milan failed to clear just after the hour. And when Johnson delivered again Kanu was on the end of it to slide home and seemingly clinch it. But Milan proved their magic can last right until the end - even though at times they were outplayed. Substitute Ronaldinho struck a wonderful 30-yard free-kick and Inzaghi, who had twice hit the post, confounded the battling hosts by knocking in Gianluca Zambrotta's pass nearly two minutes into stoppage time.
Portsmouth Team Statistics Milan
2 Goals 2
0 1st Half Goals 0
4 Shots on Target 5
8 Shots off Target 7
4 Blocked Shots 2
4 Corners 8
10 Fouls 12
2 Offsides 3
1 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
85.3 Passing Success 84.8
17 Tackles 19
88.2 Tackles Success 84.2
50.8 Possession 49.2
56.7 Territorial Advantage 43.3

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