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AC Milan 1-0 Celtic (agg: 1-0)

Preamble: There’s Mission Impossible and there’s Celtic’s assignment tonight: Mission Insane If You Think You’ve Any Chance Whatsoever Of Pulling It Off. However, Scots and Irish traditionally fancy odds like that so let’s not write the Bhoys off just yet. Give it 90 minutes or so.

Seriously though, Celtic first-leg performance was admirable. That’s not supposed to sound patronising. They were and are, as Gordon Strachan readily admits, vastly inferior to their opponents in technical terms, but they were hugely committed, defended like demons and had a crude but potentially effective gameplan: the full-backs punted balls down the channels and Kenny Miller (who’s not playing tonight) scurried gamely after it; or Shunsuke Nakamura hoisted in some high ones and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink knocked them down; and they even tried the occasional surprise attack, Evander Sno or Nakamura attempting to launch sly ground assaults. It wasn’t sophisticated but the blows still had to be blocked.

If Celtic will re-wield their bludgeon tonight, Milan will again have a sheath-full of rapiers. They cut the Celts open several times in Glasgow and the only thing that stopped them scoring was a combination of heroic defending (take a bow, debutant Darren O’Dea), poxy finishing and scandalous diving (you total muppet, Alberto Gilardino).

Interesting fact: Carlos Ancelotti is one of only five people to have won the European Cup as both player and manager (the others? Miguel Munoz, Giovanni Trappatoni, Johan Cruyff and Frank Rijkaard). Strachan, meanwhile, is likely to remain one of the 17 billion people to have lifted it neither as a player nor a manager. 17 billion is, of course, a figure that has come directly from the top of my head. If somebody can actually calculate how many humans there have been (not forgetting this one), I’d be intrigued to know. And if someone can tell me how many more there are to come, I’d be frankly astonished.

A lie: During the first leg I promised to send an extravagant prize to the reader who donated the most interesting piece of football trivia. I broke that promise (yes, I intend to run for government at the next election), but if Mr Ewan Benson could re-send me his postal address, I’ll forward the booty first thing in the morning. Sorry about the delay, which was down to nothing more sinister than me accidentally deleting your address.

Teams: AC Milan: 1-Dida; 44-Massimo Oddo, 25-Daniele Bonera, 3-Paolo Maldini, 18-Marek Jankulovski; 8-Gennaro Gattuso, 21-Andrea Pirlo, 23-Massimo Ambrosini, 10-Clarence Seedorf; 22-Kaka, 9-Filippo Inzaghi.

Celtic: 1-Artur Boruc; 2-Paul Telfer, 44-Stephen McManus, 48-Darren O’Dea, 3-Lee Naylor; 25-Shunsuke Nakamura, 18-Neil Lennon, 15-Evander Sno, 46-Aiden McGeady; 20-Jiri Jarosik, 10-Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria)

7:38pm: Sounds like a magnificent atmosphere in the San Siro, where thousands of Celtic fans are currently out-singing the tifosi. “Celtic to bravely battle out the first half and take the lead early in the second, a Vennegoor header from an in-swinger from Nakamura,” fantasises Gearoid Somebody. “But gallant holding on from plucky little Celtic to be undone by a Pirlo free-kick and a deflection off Inzaghi’s arse!” You could be right, Gearoid, but you forgot to mention that Inzaghi will be four yards offside when he gets the crucial touch and, indeed, for most of the match.

7:43pm: The teams waddle out to the raucous acclaim, which is immediately drowned out by that increasingly irritating Champions League anthem. At the head of Milan is Paolo Maldini, who was rickety at times in the first leg and has been injured since then – if Celtic are to score, the goal may well come from where he’s supposed to be.

1 min: We have kick-off! Milan whack it forward and straight out of play. An odd strategy, to be sure.

2 mins: Lee Naylor crunches into Rangers reject Gennaro Gattuso, conceding a free-kick on the left but probably Black Prada Eyeglass Case deriving satisfaction nonetheless. Particularly as the Italians wasted the free.

4 mins: Wonderful trickery by Seedorf, who picked up the ball in the box, drew Sno and Lennon, then nutmegged the latter and teed up, Kaka, who curling shot from 12 yards was brilliantly saved by Boruc! You get the feeling the Pole’s going to have to produce a lot more of the same if Celtic are going to survive tonight.

6 mins: A chance for Celtic: Vennegoor of Hesselink was clumsily fouled by Bonare. Free-kick close to the left-hand corner flag. Nakamura arrows it across to the back post, where Jarosik controls it on his chest and then stabs the ball goalwards … but his shot is blocked by Maldini’s hand! Celtic clamour for a penalty but the Austrian ref ignores their appeals. Outrageous!

9 mins: Piffling shot from distance by Seedorf. Celtic are looking solid. “I find the CL theme to be very inspiring; kind of like Final Countdown by Europe,” confesses Alex Cowell. “You know, ne ne ner nerrr, ne ne ne ne nerrr… it’s the final countdown! no? Ok, I’m off to get my remaining hair permed.” Rock now, rock the night, eh Alex?

13 mins: The encouraging fact is it’s all very even so far. Celtic are keeping a high line and aren’t afraid to commit several to attack, and not in a frenzied way but patiently and intelligently. Have they learned the lessons of the 11 defeats in their previous 12 away Champions League ties? Could this be the night they create history? Of course, when I say it’s even, I mean Milan are playing well too. In short, it’s an absorbing game so far and, like David Bowie before he got married, could go either way.

15 mins: Milan corner comes to nought. Tactics truck: Jiri Jarosik appears to be stationed on the left, with will-o’-the-wisp Irishman Aiden McGeady in the middle. Milan, meanwhile, have a lone spearhead in the form, and indeed the person, of Inzaghi. Kaka is playing just off him.

17 mins: Slick move by Milan rips Celtic apart, Jankulowski gallops into the box … but is denied by an outstanding last-ditch tackle by O’Dea. From the resultant corner, Kaka blasts a shot miles over the bar.

19 mins: Sno concedes a free-kick at the edge of the box. Pirlo runs his hand thoughtfully through his (own) hair as he decides what to do. Then he slips as he’s about to kick and sends his shot spinning harmlessly wide. “I think that’s the first time I’ve heard/seen an Irishman actually use the phrase “to be sure”,” parps Paul Creasy. “You don’t happen to be dressed as a leprechaun too, with a pint of Guinness at hand?” Begorrah no, Paul. Not a tall, a tall.

22 mins: Celtic have a chance to relieve the mounting pressure as Nakamura stands over a free-kick from 40 yards. Various team-mates lurch into the box and tell him to stick the ball on their heads, but the Japanese floats it into Dida’s hands instead.

23 mins: Fabulous saving tackle by Naylor! Milan carved their way through Celtic again and Seedorf slipped a delightful ball across the face of the goal. Inzaghi, only seven yards out, seemed set to pounce, but Naylor came from nowhere (warning: exaggeration) to poke the ball clear.

25 mins: Celtic are becoming increasingly stretched. Kaka almost opens the scoring after dashing into the box and curling the a shot around McManuc and Boruc … and the post.

28 mins: Horrendous goof by Maldini, who attempts to clear but instead pass straight to Vennegoor. The Dutchman sprints down the left and tries to pick McGeady out at the edge of the box. Two defenders instantly converge on the youngster and his shot is snuffed out.

32 mins: The game’s being played at a cracking tempo and it’s by no means one-way traffic: Celtic are giving almost as good as they’re getting. But they were again stretched a minute ago, this time when Oddo stormed down the right and fired in a menacing cross. Boruc came to punch it clear but got only half the ball and half O’Dea’s head, meaning the ball drooped down to Kaka at the edge of the area. But the Brazilian’s shot was blocked.

37 mins: Nakamura squanders possession in the middle and Seedorf scampers towards the Celtic box. The defenders are backpedaling frantically, and Seedorf picks out Kaka on the penalty spot. Naylor saves the day with another tremendous block! 30 seconds later Milan are banging on the door again, this time it’s Kaka Authentic Prada Shoes Outlet who floats a wonderful cross to the cusp of the six-yard box, where Ambrosini soars like a, um, professional athlete and hammers a header against the crossbar!

40 mins: Lennon swings a cross towards Vennegoor of Hesselink, who misses it. Oddo coolly chests it into Dida’s arms. Still, the fact that Celtic can still get near the Milan goal after the five-minute siege they’ve just endured is commendable. 42 mins: Kaka boots the ball over the bar from 20 yards. “Celtic won’t win,” declares Kym Darwin. “It’s the unflattering horizontal stripes of their kit, makes them look like prisoners. By the way, happy International Women’s Day.” Thanks Kym. Coincidentally, attractive women have been very much in my thoughts today.

44 mins: Jarosik clutches at a flimsy straw from 20 yards and an acute angle. His shot, needless to say but I will replica prada travel bags, went well wide.

45 mins: Boruc brings a joyous cheer from the Celtic hordes behind his goal by surging off his line to catch a corner. The ref, meanwhile, blows for half-time.

Half-time: It’s been terrific fare so far and though Milan have been on top, Celtic have been valiant and, at times, dangerous. A monumental victory is by no means beyond them. Meanwhile, this: “Kym Darwin should surely be aware that, in football terms at least, horizontal stripes are known as hoops,” point-of-orders Scot W, who, in football terms at least, can safely be classed as an anorak.

46 mins: The Scots get the second half underway and tear straight forward, winning a throw-in near the corner flag. It’s flung in to the near post, but cleared. But Celtic quickly regain possession and fizz the ball about impressively. Before losing possession again. But that brief spell was a mean statement of intent by Celtic. “It is a stretch to think of a Celtic victory as “monumental”,” carps Mark Weiner. “Milan aren’t exactly playing like gangbusters this year.” Well, they’ve won eight of their last ten Serie A matches (and drawn the other Black Prada Eyeglass Case two) and are playing a hell of a lot better than, say, Barcelona did in either leg against Liverpool. So to be holding them after 1.5 games is a top achievement … which Celtic may yet better.

48 mins: Milan romp forward. Inzaghi tees up Kaka beautifully, but the Brazilian wants to take a second touch before shooting and is crowded out by recovering Celtic defenders. 50 mins: Lennon cuts down Kaka 25 yards from goal, the ball runs clear to Inzaghi, who has a free path to goal … but the referee blows for a free-kick, causing Inzaghi to crumple to the ground in tears. Pirlo sizes up the free, then curls it straight (and therefore oxymoronically) into Boruc’s arms.

53 mins: Jankulowski hurtles down the left and cuts the ball back to Inzaghi at the near post. The striker lets fire Biggest Prada Outlet In Italy first time, but his shot whizzes into the side-netting. “Estimates of the number of Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Official Website human beings who have ever lived on Earth fall into the range of 90 to 110 billion humans… so there have been a little bit more than 17 billion people have not lifted the European Cup.” That’s not entirely true, Ian: my own contribution means that estimates fall into the range of 17 to 110 billion so I wasn’t that far off.

57 mins: Crazy refereeing! Naylor is penalised for bringing down Inzaghi. It wasn’t a foul but it was in the box so, in a way, Celtic are lucky it’s only a free-kick. Jankulowski hammers his shot straight into the five-man wall.

59 mins: Jarosik ends a threatening Milan move by tracking back to rob Pirlo at the edge of the area. He’s then fouled, giving Celtic a chance to boot the ball up the park.

61 mins: McGeady skips over a Bonare challenge and charges down the left. His low cross is heading towards Vennegoor of Hesselink, but Authentic Prada Fairy Bag For Sale Maldini slides in to scoop it clear. Excellent defending.

63 mins: Substitution: Jarosik, knackered but unbowed, trots off the pitch and is replaced by Agatha Ruiz Prada Online Shop Thomas Gravesen.

65 mins: Naylor whips a hopeful ball into the box, which Nakamura battles to collect. The midfielder knocks it back to Gravesen, who dinks it over Bonare and then unleashes a volley from 17 yards – but it’s bravely blocked by Oddo.

67 mins: O’Dea nods a dangerous cross behind to concede a corner. Seedorf’s delivery is appalling: he ballooned it over all his team-mates and out for a throw-in on the other side. “What do you reckon, Paul, will this one go to penalties?” wonders JC Fantechi, neglecting to cross my palm with silver. But hey, I don’t do this for the money. I do it for the lack of anything better to do. So here goes: I think Celtic will score and go throw on away goals after a 1-1 draw.

70 mins: Pirlo wisely pushes Seedorf aside to take a corner. His delivery is excellent, Inzaghi meets it a nanosecond before Boruc … but Naylor heads it off the line!

72 mins: Substitution: a dejected Inzaghi trudges off, to be replaced by top thespian Gilardino. The chances of it going to penalties – or at least one – have suddenly increased.

75 mins: Nakamura sweeps the ball out wide to Vennegoor of Hesselink, who retrieves it by the corner flag and knocks it back to Telfer. Strachan’s favourite player attempts to pick out McGeady towards the back post, but instead hoofs the ball out for a throw-in.

78 mins: Celtic draw whistles from the home crowd by setting up camp in the Milan half for the first time in a long time. The Celtic faithful, who are behind the goal their heroes are attacking, olé lustily as the Scots zip the ball around the pitch skilfully. Gravesen suddenly accelerates towards the area and fires the ball across. Nakamura just fails to connect.

79 mins: Telfer, positioned well, heads an Ambrosini cross clear, as Kaka awaited the dropping ball behind him.

80 mins: Substitution: Gattuso replaced by Cristian Brocchi. The former Rangers man looks crestfallen. But Pirlo nearly put a smile back on Italian faces with a blockbuster from 30 yards: it shaved the upright (as commentators always used to say in the 80s … it’s a clichĂ© worth reviving).

81 mins: After sustained probing by Milan, Celtic play the ball from the back with admirable poise. They patiently string together around a dozen passes, before Nakamura plays a loose ball to Jankulowski. But Sno tackled back brilliantly to regain possession. Celtic, who were manifestly inferior in the first leg, are quite splendid tonight.

84 mins: Ooooooooooh! Pirlo picked out Gilardino with a sublime dink over the top, Gilardino heads from five yards … it’s saved by Boruc! And Celtic immediately charge down the other end … Nakamura dances into the box before being clattered by Ambrosini! The Japanese collapses to the turf, but the ref waves play on. Having just seen the replay, I can regretfully confirm it was a good decision.

86 mins: Intense pressure on the Celtic goal now. And Boruc gets a standing ovation for a magnificent one-handed save from Seedorf’s free-kick!

87 mins: Kaka collects the ball 20 yards from goal, surveys his options and then aims a delicate chip over Boruc’s head …. and against the bar! It bounces clear. Wonderfully, wonderfully clear! At this point Celtic could do with the ref making an absurd blunder and blowing his whistle early.

90 mins: Snappy interchange by Milan, who flash the ball between the bunched Celtic defence, before Ambrosini blazes over from 20 yards.

90+2 mins: Nakamura fires a free-kick in from the left, which is headed out for a corner. Nakamura hurries over to take it. There are only three Celts in the box and one of them pushes Seedorf to concede a free-kick and allow Milan whack the ball down the wrong end again.

90+3 mins: Peep! Peep! Peep! The ref calls a temporary truce as Celtic fans hail their heroes for keeping a clean sheet away from home for the first time in the Champions League. Extra-time looms.

91 mins: The Celtic fans are making an almighty din in the San Siro as their team begins the first period of extra time.

92 mins: McManus slides in to beat Gilardino to the ball and swoosh it clear. After a bit of loose play by both sides, the ball runs to McGeady on the left. He waltzes into the box and chips towards the back post, where Jankulowski heads it clear.

93 mins: GOAL!!! Milan 1-0 Celtic With Celtic committed to attack, Milan broke quickly and Jankulowski found Kaka, who barged past Lennon and scampered through on the exposed centre-backs. He skipped past McManus and slid the ball deftly between Boruc’s legs. A neatly-taken goal.

95 mins: Boruc beats away a Pirlo piledriver as my 1-1 prediction, though still possible, looks more and more improbable. But Celtic have risen to every challenge so far tonight …

97 mins: Seedorf whips the ball in from the right but Gilardino can only get a single strand of hair to it. Substitution: Craig Beattie lumbers on in place of Sno.

100 mins: Gravesen tickles Dida’s hands with a mild shot from 25 yards. The shot statistics have just popped up on the screen and claim it’s 28-6 in favour of the home side. But it’s been much more balanced than that suggests. As Homer Simpson said: “Statistics can be used to prove anything – eight out of ten people know that.”

103 mins: Boruc is yet again required to parry a Pirlo shot. Celtic are visibly tiring and the Italians are playing with an annoying swagger.

105 mins: Beattie scuttles down the right and drifts a cross towards the near post. Jankulowski skids in to boot it clear. Celtic take the throw-in quickly, work the ball out wide again to Naylor, who swings in a fierce cross. Beattie leaps well but can’t keep his header down. Lennon is subsequently booked for something I didn’t see but probably needed to be said.

105+1 mins: Naylor hurls himself at yet another Kaka shot. “Vic Reeves put it better,” opines TM Davidson: “60% of statistic are made up.”

Another half-time

106 mins: After Kenny Miller comes on in place of someone whose identity will be revealed as soon as I regain my bearings, Milan set the second half in motion. “Naylor should be called up for England,” howls Tom Madigan to, you suspect, no avail.

107 mins: Lennon loses the ball deep in his own half. Kaka tees up Seedorf, who wellies it into the stands.

110 mins: “Why is the Italian swagger annoying?” screeches Yvonne Doyle. “If Celtic are tiring while 100-year-old Maldini is still running around, then they should train better!” And with that, Beattie tackles said Maldini into touch. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

111 mins: Gravesen swings a long cross from the right towards the back post. Vennegoor of Authentic Prada Handbags Canada Hesselink leaps, but not as high as Dida, who clasps the ball to his chest gratefully.

113 mins: Beattie battles to win a corner. Gravesen steps forward to take it, in Authentic Prada Handbags Outlet Online front of the legions of Celtic fans. His flights it towards the penalty spot, but McManus can only meet it with his hand, largely because Jankulowksi unbalanced him with subtle dig to the belly.

115 mins: Ambrosini concedes a free-kick, which Gravesen attempts to send into the danger zone. But Maldini bops it out for a throw-in. It’s flung towards the near post and headed out to the edge of the box, where McGeady picks it up, turns past one defender but then pings his shot against a courageous Italian who had hurled himself at the ball.

116 mins: Substitution: Oddo off for Dario Simic. “90% of Vic Reeves’ jokes about statistics were made up by Bob Mortimer,” corrects David Rodgers, who may or may not be Bob Mortimer’s agent.

118 mins: Boruc boots the ball forward from the back. Ambrosini pushes McManus and Celtic have a lifeline in the form of a free-kick about 25 yards from goal. Fairly central. Naylor hit a shot of tremendous venom but little accuracy.

120 mins: Enterprising Milan are still attacking at every opportunity. Kaka loses the ball to Gravesen near Celtic left corner flag and the Scots gallop forward for what must surely be their last attack. It peters out.

120+1 mins: It’s all over, the match and Celtic’s impossible dream … which they came impressively Ap Lei Chau Prada Factory Outlet close to fulfilling. They played with passion, poise, precision and something that begins with ‘p’, means the same thing as skill and may not actually exist. In short, it was a superb effort. But Milan matched all those qualities and added in some snazzy ones of their own. The better team won. Just. Thanks for following this with GU, and for contributing your emails. Bye.

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