Vol. 5 Num 479 Fri. September 30, 2005  

UEFA Champs League
Generous Milan

AC Milan threw away a three-goal lead in last season's Champions League final defeat by Liverpool and the problem does not seem to be solved with Schalke 04 twice coming from behind to secure a 2-2 draw in Wednesday's Champions League Group E match.

Six-time European champions Milan took the lead in Germany after just 22 seconds through Clarence Seedorf but Soren Larsen equalised on three minutes in a frantic opening.

European Player of the Year Andrei Shevchenko then put Milan ahead again on 59 minutes with a bullet header, but substitute Hamit Altintop, on the pitch for just two minutes, levelled in the 70th minute.

"The draw was a fair result," concluded Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti. "I am pleased with my team although losing the lead twice is not something you want to happen too often.

"It's a point gained rather than two lost. This is a difficult group."

However his opinion of Schalke's defender Christian Poulsen - the Danish player who was spat at by Francesco Totti in Euro 2004 - was less than flattering.

"He's a coward because he was plying his own game when the referee wasn't looking."

It was Schalke's first point in this season's Champions League and in truth they could have taken all three had Brazilian goalkeeper Dida not made a brilliant late save from Larsen.

"It is a shame because we had a chance to win this game," said Schalke handler Ralf Rangnick. "But when you go behind after 22 seconds and then concede again when we were on top of our game you have to be content with a point."

Milan have four points after an opening 3-1 win over Fenerbahce but cannot afford such defensive mistakes in their next match with PSV Eindhoven on October 18.

It all looked so rosy for Milan when Seedorf, the only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs, scored after a mere 22 seconds.

The Dutch midfielder drilled an optimistic shot from 25 metres that caught goalkeeper Frank Rost off guard and he let the ball squirm under his body.

It was a nightmare start for Schalke, making their first appearance in this competition since the 2001/02 season, but they responded quickly.

In the third minute Brazilian midfielder Lincoln saw his cross deflected and Larsen equalised with his head to stun Milan.

With 32 minutes gone German international Kevin Kuranyi then went close showing great control to take down a high ball but his shot went metres wide of Dida's post.

"We played well and created chances but did not have that bit of luck tonight," said Kuranyi. "I certainly had chances to score but the ball would not go in."

In the second half Schalke probed through Lincoln, who put Milan compatriot Kaka in the shade, as the visitors became increasingly dependent on counter attacks.

But on 59 minutes veteran Paolo Maldini rampaged down the left flank and produced a perfect cross for Ukraine star Shevchenko, anonymous until this point, who powered a header past Rost to put Milan in front for the second time in the match.

Rangnick threw on Altintop in the 68th minute and it proved an inspired move with the Turkish midfielder rifling in the equaliser 120 seconds later to leave Milan coach Ancelotti tearing his hair out.