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April 18, 2006

Oh, what a night!

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Barcelona can celebrate after this outstanding victory. They beat AC Milan 1-0 in Italy, thanks to a goal of Ludovic Giuly.

Milan wasted many good chances with Andriy Shevchenko and Gilardino. But also Barcelona could have scored more: A brilliant shot from Ronaldinho hit the post at the end of a swift counter-attack. Milan wasted another chance when substitute Massimo Ambrosini screwed a shot wide in the 81st minute.

In fact, Milan have been clinical in their finishing throughout the competition this season but they missed the sharpness in front of goal of their striker Filippo Inzaghi, who was sidelined due to a virus.

We must remember that Frank Rijkaard is a former team-mate of Ancelotti's at Milan. The coach said "It was a very important result and I want to congratulate all the players. We were playing at a tough venue against a top team and it wasn't easy."

Milan, playing in their third Champions League semi-final in four seasons, dominated the early exchanges in front of a passionate 76,000 capacity crowd but it was Barcelona who took a vital lead 12 minutes after the break. We must say that Ronaldinho split the Milan defence open and Giuly, anticipating the delivery and losing his marker, Kaladze, with a sharp diagonal run, beat keeper Dida with a precise left-foot finish.

With Barcelona dominating midfield, Dida was forced into action in the 66th minute to keep out a shot from Andres Iniesta as Ancelotti's side looked in danger of letting the game slip out of control. The boss responded by bringing on Paolo Maldini for an out-of-sorts Andrea Pirlo, pushing Serginho forward into midfield and then introduced Ambrosini for Gennaro Gattuso.

Line-ups:

AC Milan (4-4-2) Dida; Stam (Cafu 77), Kaladze, Nesta, Serginho; Gattuso (Ambrosini 74), Pirlo (Maldini 67), Kaka, Seedorf; Shevchenko, Gilardino

Barcelona (4-3-3) Valdes; Oleguer (Motta 75), Puyol, Marquez, van Bronckhorst; van Bommel, Edmilson, Iniesta; Giuly (Belletti 71), Eto'o, Ronaldinho Gaucho(Lopez 89)