Late double blow hits Celtic at the San Siro
Weakened AC Milan side still too strong for Scottish champions
Cristian Zapata (right) celebrates with his of AC Milan team-mates Philippe Mexes and Nigel De Jong after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League match against Celtic at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. Photograph: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
AC MIlan 2 Celtic 0: AC Milan struck twice late on to beat luckless Celtic in their Champions League Group H opener at the San Siro.
The home side were struggling against Neil Lennon’s men and in need of some inspiration as the game entered the final stages.
However, they got a huge slice of luck when defender Cristian Zapata’s drive in the 82nd minute appeared to be heading wide before it deflected off Parkhead left back Emilio Izaguirre and ended up behind Fraser Forster.
The Hoops goalkeeper was beaten again four minutes later despite making a great save from Mario Balotelli’s free-kick, as midfielder Sulley Muntari knocked in the rebound.
Much was made of AC Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri’s lengthy injury-list which included the absence of Kaka and captain Riccardo Montolivo but the home side, and indeed they looked disjointed for most of the match.
Much of that, however, was down to the performance of Celtic.
Forster had to make several saves early on and one near the end of the first half, but in between, the visitors enjoyed more than their fair share of possession.
There was a confidence in the way the Scottish champions kept the ball albeit it without threatening Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati too much.
After the break Muntari missed a great chance while Hoops’ in-form striker Anthony Stokes hit the top of the bar with a free-kick.
The two late goals, though, were a sickener for Celtic who take on Barcelona in their next group fixture at Parkhead at the start of October with Ajax also waiting in the wings.
However, on their overall display, they can go forward in the group with some confidence.