milan kept waiting by spirited om published: thursday 26 november 2009, 0.50cet
ac milan 1-1 olympique de marseille
the rossoneri need a win at fc zürich in a fortnight to guarantee a last-16 place as marco borriello and lucho traded goals at san siro.
by richard aikman from san siro
group c will go down to the wire after ac milan and olympique de marseille shared a hard-fought draw at san siro. in an open match marco borriello's fine early strike was cancelled out by lucho and despite late chances at either end, nothing could separate these two former european champions.
tough task borriello's opener was worthy of the occasion, and though it arrived after just ten minutes it reflected the hosts' initial supremacy. yet if the rossoneri looked strong going forward, they were unpicked all too easily at the back as om levelled inside six minutes with a goal that owed as much to mamadou niang's pace and power as it did to lucho's cool finish. the draw left milan – who will be without the suspended gianluca zambrotta after a yellow card here – needing a win at fc zürich in a fortnight to guarantee a place in the uefa champions league first knockout round; om must beat real madrid cf at the santiago bernabéu.
vibrant start milan began confidently, exuding all the belief of a team unbeaten in nine games. andrea pirlo sprayed passes left and right, and the attacking quartet in leonardo's exciting 4-2-1-3 formation linked up well. three combined in the sixth minute as ronaldinho, clarence seedorf and borriello led a sweeping move that brought zambrotta bursting into the area. steve mandanda got down well to save and gabriel heinze blocked borriello's follow-up, but the om pair could do nothing soon after when borriello cut in from the right, flummoxed the defender with a clever sleight of foot and drove in low.
sucker punch the home advantage was fleeting. niang turned massimo oddo inside out with a forceful run down the left, and though the forward's centre was cut out by dida, lucho emerged unmarked to drive the rebound into the roof of the net. it was a sucker punch for the previously dominant hosts, and lucho almost dazzled them again when his long-range effort narrowly cleared the bar. as the match swung from end to end, borriello too could have scored a second. his control in bringing down ronaldinho's lofted pass was exquisite but so was the timing of souleymane diawara's tackle as the italian international shaped to shoot.
off the woodwork pato was next to threaten as the visiting defence allowed thiago silva's long punt to bounce over them. the rossoneri no7 spotted mandanda off his line, but his lob was slightly over-hit. if pato was a menace throughout, compatriot ronadinho was also full of life, brightening the contest with some delightful tricks: nutmegging laurent bonnart before setting up zambrotta; flicking a pass for borriello to drag wide. yet all that good work was almost undone when brandão somehow struck the bar from two metres. édouard cissé released niang down the left and the cross was inviting, but the finish poor. borriello fared no better when he nodded ronaldinho's clipped centre horribly wide, although it was diawara who came closest, glancing a late corner against the far post.