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Late Goal Gives Milan 2-2 Draw with Portsmouth
    2008-11-28 13:10:03     China Daily/Agencies

Portsmouth's Peter Crouch shoots on goal against AC Milan during their UEFA Cup soccer match at Fratton Park in Portsmouth on Thursday, November 27, 2008. [Photo: Agencies]

Filippo Inzaghi scored the equalizer in the second minute of injury time after Ronaldinho fired in a 30-meter free kick as AC Milan hit back from two goals down for a 2-2 UEFA Cup draw with Portsmouth on Thursday.

Second half strikes by Younes Kaboul and Nwankwo Kanu appeared to have put FA Cup winner Portsmouth on the way to a famous victory over star studded Milan in a thrilling group match.

But Ronaldinho, who came on with his team losing 2-0 with 16 minutes to go, drove a trademark free kick into the top corner of the net. And Inzaghi, who earlier hit the post and the bar, collected a lobbed pass from Gianluca Zambrotta, controlled it first time and prodded the ball home for the equalizer.

"Ronaldinho reopened the game with an excellent free kick," Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "It changed the face of the game in some way.

"Inzaghi had a good game and he was unlucky because he hit the post twice. He scored a really important goal."

Portsmouth defender Glen Johnson, who set up both his teams goals with crosses but was judged to have fouled Ronaldinho for his free kick, said it should not have been given.

"In my opinion it was never a foul," he said. "It's one of those things, I suppose. Ronaldinho can cause havoc when he's on those free-kicks, as he showed."

On a night when Kanu outshone Kaka and Peter Crouch was a constant problem for the Milan defense, Portsmouth thrilled its noisy army of fans at Fratton Park with a performance of speed and power after surviving early scares.

A little over two years ago, the thought of Portsmouth playing AC Milan in a European competition appeared fanciful.

Pompey has not won a major title since the 1950 league championship and Milan, one of the aristocrats of European football, had won the most prestigious title, the Champions League, for the seventh time.

But this was what Pompey fans had been dreaming of, watching the likes of Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko playing at 20,250-capacity Fratton Park stadium, which looks like a throwback to the 1960s with its wooden walls and unsightly steel girders.

Milan could well have been two goals up by the break after Filippo Inzaghi shot weakly against the post in the 10th minute and later in the half floated a lob that beat goalkeeper David James but flicked the top of the bar.

But Portsmouth, despite missing several key players through injury, shook the Milan defense with crosses aimed at the lanky Peter Crouch, who went close three times with a header and two acrobatic shots.

The home side kept making chances and was rewarded with a well taken goal in the 62nd minute.

Former Inter Milan striker Kanu laid the ball back to Glen Johnson whose first time cross from the right was headed powerfully home by Younes Kaboul.

"We're all going on a European tour," the Pompey fans sang in celebration of the goal and they were cheering again 11 minutes later.

Johnson burst clear of two tacklers down the right and Kanu was waiting at the far post to slide his low cross into the net.

Ronaldinho was sent on to try and turn the game and, after he appeared lucky to get a free kick 30 meters out, bent a shot into the top corner.

Then Inzaghi came up with the injury time equalizer.

Milan remains unbeaten with seven points from three games while Portsmouth now has one from two.


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