solid lille hold milan in check published: wednesday 27 september 2006, 0.35cet
losc lille métropole 0-0 ac milan a combination of spirited teamwork and wayward finishing denied the six-time european champions.
by chris burke from stade félix-bollaert
a combination of spirited teamwork and wayward finishing from their opponents enabled losc lille métropole to claim an impressive 0-0 draw against six-time european champions ac milan as both teams maintained their unbeaten start to group h.
stout defending having conceded seven goals in their last two ligue 1 outings, some believed lille's porous defence would provide rich pickings for the aristocrats from milan, but the french side are not famed for their tidy collective play for nothing and ultimately had as many good chances as the visitors to take victory.
home comforts claude puel feared playing games at rc lens's ground would negate the home advantage a noisy and partisan crowd can supply, but the lineups told of his attacking intent. while filippo inzaghi was surprisingly left on the bench by carlo ancelotti, the lille coach took the rare but ambitious decision to field a second striker in nicolas fauvergue. perhaps fittingly, it was the latter who had the first glimpse of goal but his shot was blocked by alessandro nesta's sliding tackle.
gilardino header milan began to make their presence felt with some snappy one-touch play, yet fauvergue looked determined to justify his selection and fired over from close range after kader keita picked him out with a menacing cross. the bulk of the possession belonged to the serie a giants, however, and they came within centimetres of taking the lead just before the half-hour when lone forward alberto gilardino shaved tony sylva's far post with a glancing header.
sylva save keita responded immediately with a dancing run through the milan midfield, yet his curled effort lacked sufficient power to trouble dida. the brazilian international then kept out a peter odemwingie attempt, but it was his lille counterpart who made the first crucial intervention, racing back to block kaká's effort after the playmaker had rounded him and seemed certain to score. suddenly the rossoneri were rampant, and gilardino ended the half with a low drive that span narrowly wide.
end-to-end action the visitors started in the same vein after the break, kaká slightly underhitting one shot and clarence seedorf having a strike disallowed for offside. lille had an excellent opportunity to open the scoring themselves when another mazy dribble from keita finished with the fleet-footed winger sending his effort fractionally over. the ivorian was quickly becoming his side's key man, while at the other end kaká breezed past milivoje vitakić before aiming his shot too close to sylva. grégory tafforeau committed a similar error from distance, but even a superb angled header from mathieu bodmer failed to beat dida, who pushed the ball wide at full stretch.
goalkeeping excellence indeed, with both custodians appearing more and more unbeatable as time wore on, not even inzaghi was able to stop the match heading towards a stalemate after being introduced towards the end. lille next play aek athens fc home and away, with milan facing rsc anderlecht on matchdays 3 and 4.