Pato gave the visitors a dream start when he notched the quickest matchday one goal in Champions League history, only for Pedro Rodríguez and David Villa to reply either side of half-time. After a Lionel Messi masterclass it looked as if Josep Guardiola’s side would top Group H, only for Thiago Silva’s added-time header to restrict them to a point.
Milan’s opener, after 25 seconds, was a mixture of audacity, vision and power. Pato swivelled in midfield and spotted that centre-backs Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets were holding a high line. His explosive burst between them left the pair in his wake. Pato then calmly slotted the ball under Valdes are Barca were behind inside the opening 30 seconds.
It was immediately clear that Milan’s plan was for Pato use his pace against the unsettled Barca back-four. It wasn’t until Guardiola placed Éric Abidal on man-marking duties against Pato that Barca were able to get back in the match.
And no surprise that it was Messi who forced Christian Abbiati into his first save of the match after 10 minutes. For the next 24 minutes it was, simply, the Messi show. His follow-up was a free-kick cracked off Abbiati’s left-hand post and just before the half-hour the keeper needed a strong hand to block the Argentinian’s low shot. It was only a matter of time before Barca scored.
Barcelona’s mercurial No10 was, inevitably, at the heart of it, leaving Mark van Bommel, Alessandro Nesta and Ignazio Abate standing with a searing burst of pace before squaring for Pedro to tap in the equaliser.
Both sides made enforced changes before the break – Massimo Ambrosini for Kevin-Prince Boateng and Cesc Fàbregas for Andrés Iniesta.
Within five minutes of the restart Barcelona underlined their champion credentials. From 30 metres Villa hammered a free-kick into Abbiati’s top right corner to make it 2-1. The goal brought further Barça possession, but no reward as Milan drew on every shred of experience to stay in the match – harassing, pressing and sniffing openings.
Two minutes into added time hiago Silva’s stoppage-time header levelled the scores in dramatic fashion and denied Barca all three points.