Milan: Ghanaians Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari both scored in a lively second half as AC Milan inflicted a shock 2-0 defeat on Barcelona in their Champions League last 16, first leg, at the San Siro. (Agencies)
Milan, crowned European champions seven times, had failed to beat the Catalan giants in the competition since a 2-0 win at the Camp Nou in 2000 and had exited the competition last season and in 2006 after defeats at the hands of Barcelona.
But, after a promising first-half display was taken up a level in the second period, fans of the Rossoneri were given reason to believe that their team can advance to the quarter-finals.
"It's a great win for us," admitted Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri. "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, but we never believed we would be going to the Nou Camp with a 2-0 advantage."
Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura, standing in for Tito Vilanova while he undergoes cancer treatment in New York, admitted the Blaugrana had simply not done enough.
"Milan were really well organised and in the first half we controlled the game but we didn't create as many chances as we'd have liked," he said. "The result is what it is -- it's a setback, but it's not a disaster."
In a tight first half, Barcelona toyed with the hosts' defence without really putting 'keeper Christian Abbiati in danger.
Milan sought to get men behind the ball but were still left rueing several missed chances.
On 16 minutes, an unmarked Giampaolo Pazzini failed to convert Boateng's first-time effort from Stephan El Shaarawy's corner at the far post.
French defender Phillipe Mexes then did well at the other end with a saving block at the near post from a dangerous Pedro Rodriguez cross.
Milan: Ghanaians Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari both scored in a lively second half as AC Milan inflicted a shock 2-0 defeat on Barcelona in their Champions League last 16, first leg, at the San Siro.