03.04.2007: Bayern 2 – 2 AC Milan: Van Buyten’s late double earns deserved draw for Bayern

German Football
By German Football April 5, 2007 18:44

03.04.2007: Bayern 2 – 2 AC Milan: Van Buyten’s late double earns deserved draw for Bayern

A heroic last-gasp brace from Daniel van Buyten earned resilient Bayern a deserved draw in a game of fluctuating fortunes in Milan on Tuesday.

A sell-out 77,700 crowd at the Giuseppe Meazza stadium saw Michael Rensing pull off two stunning reaction saves in the first half, although Oliver Kahn’s young deputy was powerless to prevent Andrea Pirlo opening the scoring five minutes before the visitors could reach the haven of half-time.

Bayern doggedly held firm in the face of Milan’s second half onslaught and slowly gained the upper hand in the closing phase, the reward for the Reds’ persistence arriving with Van Buyten’s close-range equaliser on 78 minutes.

A valuable draw looked the likely outcome, but Bayern had not reckoned with a dubious decision by Russian referee Baskakov just six minutes from time, the match official electing to award a peanlty after what looked like a perfectly fair Lucio challenge on Kaká.

The Brazil midfielder duly converted to restore his side’s lead, but Bayern turned their dismay at the controversial penalty into a late, late equaliser when hero of the night Van Buyten bundled home at the far post with the last kick of the match to earn his team a historic draw.

Bayern showed two changes to the side which beat Schalke 2-0 at the weekend, Owen Hargreaves returning to midfield and Rensing making his second European start in goal.

The changes covered for the suspended Mark van Bommel and Oliver Kahn, although Hargreaves rates as first-choice in Bavaria nowadays and only missed Saturday’s match with injury.

The authentic non-regular face in the line-up belonged to Bayern youth product Andreas Ottl, handed a start by coach Ottmar Hitzfeld after impressing against the Bundesliga leaders three days previously.

The German champions lined up in a 4-2-2-2 formation featuring Ottl and Hargreaves as a holding pair, against the home side’s 4-4-1-1 with Brazil superstar Kaká behind lone striker Alberto Gilardino, Bayern’s least-favourite Milan striker Pippo Inzaghi relegated to a start on the bench.

The match opened at a brisk pace with the Milanese pouring forward in search of an early goal, but the Italians were restricted to a half-chance from veteran midfielder Clarence Seedorf as the Bavarian defence, expertly marshalled by Lucio and Daniel van Buyten, weathered the early storm.

Bastian Schweinsteiger tried his luck from distance, but the bulk of the action was at the other end and Rensing’s first moment of brilliance came with a breathtaking one-handed stop to deny Massimo Ambrosini’s close-range header on the quarter-hour.

A couple of Ottl drives and a Salihamidzic effort from 25 yards ensured it was not all one-way traffic, but Rensing continued his heroics after 36 minutes with a stunning reflex block when the unmarked Gilardino headed goalwards from inside the six-yard box after Massimo Oddo had scampered clear down the right.

The Reds survived a decent Milan shout for a penalty on 40 minutes after Lucio’s risky challenge on Kaká, but the respite lasted just seconds as Oddo returned a loose ball behind the defence for Pirlo, timing his run to perfection, to loop a header over the stranded Rensing and in at the far corner.

The home side continued to apply the pressure in the opening phase after the restart, but Mirko Jankulovski missed the target and Gilardino netted from an offside position on 53 minutes, the striker earning a booking from Russian referee Baskakov for continuing with play after the whistle, thus ruling himself out of the return in Munich.

The Italians’ best chances fell to Kaká, unsettled by Rensing’s looming presence as he shaped to tap home, and the lively Oddo on the volley, but after Hitzfeld replaced the subdued Lukas Podolski with Claudio Pizarro and the injured Willy Sagnol with Christian Lell twenty minutes from time, the Germans were suddenly a far more imposing

Bayern saw the lion’s share of possession in the closing stages and were rewarded for their resilience when Pizarro beat Oddo to Lell’s 78th minute cross, leaving van Buyten to turn the ball past Milan keeper Dida for the equaliser.

But there was a savage twist in the tail from a Bavarian point of view when the match official adjudged Lucio’s challenge on Kaka as a foul, the midfielder himself stepping up to hand his side the lead from the spot.

However, big-hearted Belgian Van Buyten was not to be denied as he burst forward to net the dramatic equaliser three minutes into stoppage time and set his side up superbly for next week’s second leg.

German Football
By German Football April 5, 2007 18:44
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