AC Milan held to draw by Inter

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Inter Milan withstood steady second-half pressure from AC Milan on Wednesday to hold its crosstown rival to a goalless draw in their Champions Cup first-leg sem

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Inter Milan withstood steady second-half pressure from AC Milan on Wednesday to hold its crosstown rival to a goalless draw in their Champions Cup first-leg semifinal. Wednesday's result gives AC Milan the advantage in the second leg next Tuesday at San Siro Stadium, where both teams play. That's because AC Milan will be the away team and away goals count double in the event of an aggregate tie. Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko squandered two second-half chances for AC Milan while Inter's Uruguayan Alvaro Recoba missed a pair of chances in the first half. AC Milan controlled the ball for long periods, but was unable to turn its supremacy into goals in the "EuroDerby" in front of a soldout crowd of 80,000. The clash between the two Italian soccer giants, which have won seven Champions Cup titles combined, was the 254th derby in their history, but the first ever for a berth in the final of the most prestigious European competition. AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini set another milestone in the match, playing against Inter for the 44th time and matching the record set by Inter's Giuseppi Bergomi. AC Milan, which had defeated Inter twice in the Serie A this season, missed a third victory as top striker Filippo Inzaghi was shut out by Inter's defence while Shevchenko was unable to take advantage of two clear opportunities. The Ukrainian forward, who was replaced by Brazilian Rivaldo in the closing minutes, had the best chance in the match in the 59th when he rushed unmarked into Inter's area, but he attempted to pass to Inzaghi instead of shooting from 12 yards. Nine minutes earlier, Shevchenkops shot had deflected into the hands of Inter goalkeeper Francesco Toldo one yard from the goalline. Inter, badly missing injured star striker Christian Vieri, played a defensive game but twice put Recoba in scoring position on quick counter-attacks within 10 minutes. In the seventh minute, the imaginative Uruguayan, fed by Argentine teammate Hernan Crespo, found himself unmarked at the area edge but kicked slowly at AC Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Dida, who stopped the ball with ease. In the 17th minute, Recoba headed the ball into Dida's arms from close range. Milan's second-half pressure included straight attempts by Portuguese midfielder Rui Costa, whose long-distance drives went just wide, and a diagonal shot by Rino Gattuso saved by Toldo. In the 90th minute, Crespo nearly baffled the host team with a lob past Dida, which went wide. "The important thing for us was to avoid allowing one goal," Gattuso said. "We are confident about the second leg." The winner will take on either Juventus or Real Madrid in the final, which is set for May 26 at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Defending champion Real Madrid beat Juve 2-1 on Tuesday in Madrid. The second leg is set for next Wednesday in Turin. (AP)

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