AC Milan scored twice in the last eight minutes to undo a spirited Celtic performance in their Group H Champions League opener in Italy.

The visitors came close with a Georgios Samaras shot and an Anthony Stokes free-kick, which struck the crossbar.

In a stroke of misfortune for Celtic, Cristian Zapata's strike was deflected into his own net by Emilio Izaguirre.

And Sulley Muntari knocked in a loose ball after Mario Balotelli's curling free-kick was palmed by Fraser Forster.

The result is Celtic's 20th loss in 22 away group outings but those sorry figures do not reflect what was an impressive display from Neil Lennon's men, which will provide hope for coming games against Barcelona and Ajax once the pain of defeat has subsided.

Led by the industry and composure of captain Scott Brown, Celtic matched the seven-time European Cup winners for most of the game and had chances to take the lead at the San Siro.

From an indirect free-kick, Charlie Mulgrew's shot from 10 yards out was charged down by a cluster of defenders racing from the goal-line.

Samaras hammered a shot narrowly wide, Brown was denied a clear run of goal by a brilliant Nigel de Jong tackle and Stokes found the junction of post and crossbar with a lovely free-kick just a few minutes before the deadlock was broken.

Defenders Efe Ambrose and Virgil van Dijk were as imposing as the snow-capped mountains that border the city, doing a wonderful job of protecting Forster, although the goalkeeper made his own contribution.

Celtic's Milan record

Scott McDonald
  • P 9 W 1 D 3 L 5
  • Sole win came in 2007 when Scott McDonald's last-minute goal earned a 2-1 win
  • Celtic also drew 0-0 with Milan at home earlier in 2007

He was fortunate that a ferocious 18-yard volley from Balotelli flew straight at him in the opening minutes as the hosts started strongly.

And Forster needed to look sharp to push away a glancing header from Alessandro Matri before Antonio Nocerino fizzed a shot over.

But Balotelli and Matri did not link up well in attack for AC Milan, with the former Manchester City forward a peripheral figure for long spells.

Indeed, Balotelli spent most of the first 45 minutes shrugging his shoulders on the left flank, apparently unhappy that a couple of robust challenges on him had not yielded fouls.

The Italy striker did, however, come very close to opening the scoring in the final moments of the first half when his deflected strike looked destined for the bottom corner before Forster produced a marvellous diving stop.

Samaras scored in all three of Celtic's away games in last year's successful group campaign and the Greek forward thought he had done it again after the interval when his slaloming run culminated with a fizzing shot that swerved inches wide.

Soon after, he powered into the six-yard box to connect with a header only for his effort to be blocked by a defender.

But that brief flurry was to be the best Samaras could offer as he failed to impose himself on the left wing, while Adam Matthews was also wasteful from promising positions on the opposite flank.

There was a huge let-off for Celtic when Muntari somehow missed with a close-range header.

And the visitors nearly took advantage when a slick counter-attack involving Stokes and Kris Commons released Brown into the penalty box but the skipper delayed his shot a fraction, allowing De Jong to make a terrific sliding challenge.

Celtic, who earned nine corners, came closer still when Stokes' free-kick clipped the Milan crossbar.

The Italians laboured for periods, with the home support voicing their frustration, but the stadium exploded in joyous relief as the hearts of travelling fans sunk when Zapata's raking strike clipped Izaguirre and left Forster wrong-footed.

Much was made of the home side's long injury list but there were still several big names on display in red and black and Balotelli made amends for his disappointing display with a curling free-kick that had Forster clawing the ball out and Muntari was on hand to convert from close range.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

AC Milan

  • 32 Abbiati
  • 05 Mexes
  • 17 Zapata
  • 81 Zaccardo
  • 04 Muntari
  • 21 Constant (Robinho - 75' )
  • 23 Nocerino
  • 34 De Jong
  • 09 Matri (Poli - 87' )
  • 14 Birsa (Emanuelson - 63' )
  • 45 Balotelli

Substitutes

  • 01 Amelia
  • 36 Iotti
  • 16 Poli
  • 24 Christante
  • 28 Emanuelson
  • 31 Benedicic
  • 07 Robinho

Celtic

  • 01 Forster
  • 02 Matthews (Boerrigter - 75' )
  • 03 Izaguirre
  • 04 Ambrose Booked
  • 05 van Dijk
  • 21 Mulgrew Booked (Biton - 89' )
  • 23 Lustig
  • 08 Brown Booked
  • 15 Commons (Pukki - 77' )
  • 09 Samaras
  • 10 Stokes

Substitutes

  • 24 Zaluska
  • 06 Biton
  • 18 Rogic
  • 46 McGeouch
  • 11 Boerrigter
  • 17 Balde
  • 20 Pukki
Ref: Stark
Att: 43,000

Match Stats

Shots

23 12

On target

13 4

Corners

6 9

Fouls

7 16

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:01 Full time

Full Time The referee blows the whistle to end the game.

89:54

Anthony Stokes takes a shot.

88:39 Substitution

Substitution Charlie Mulgrew leaves the field to be replaced by Nir Biton.

86:06 Substitution

Substitution Alessandro Matri goes off and Andrea Poli comes on.

84:58 Goal scored

Goal! - Sulley Muntari - AC Milan 2 - 0 Celtic Sulley Muntari scores a left footed goal. AC Milan 2-0 Celtic.

84:19 Booking

Booking

84:11

Scott Brown challenges Mario Balotelli unfairly and gives away a free kick. Caution for Scott Brown. Mario Balotelli has a direct shot on goal from the free kick. Fraser Forster parries the ball away.

81:26 Goal scored

Goal! - Emilio Izaguirre - AC Milan 1 - 0 Celtic Emilio Izaguirre puts the ball into their own net. AC Milan 1-0 Celtic.

81:24

Cristian Zapata has an effort at goal. Emilio Izaguirre gets a block in.

78:31

Nigel De Jong concedes a free kick for a foul on Teemu Pukki. Anthony Stokes shoots direct from the free kick and hits the bar.

77:43

Mikael Lustig sends in a cross. Clearance made by Cristian Zaccardo.

76:16 Substitution

Substitution Kris Commons goes off and Teemu Pukki comes on.

74:29 Booking

Booking

74:17

Cristian Zapata takes the free kick.

74:17 Substitution

Substitution De Souza Robinho on for Kevin Constant.

74:17 Substitution

Substitution Derk Boerrigter comes on in place of Adam Matthews.

74:17

Charlie Mulgrew challenges Nigel De Jong unfairly and gives away a free kick. The referee shows Charlie Mulgrew a yellow card.

71:15

Corner taken by Urby Emanuelson.

71:05

Urby Emanuelson crosses the ball. Clearance by Efe Ambrose.

70:01

Shot by Cristian Zaccardo.

69:45

Alessandro Matri takes a shot. Mikael Lustig gets a block in.

69:29

The ball is swung over by Alessandro Matri.

68:10

Kevin Constant delivers the ball.

67:43

Adam Matthews produces a cross.

67:08

Scott Brown takes a shot. Christian Abbiati catches the ball.

65:57 Booking

Booking

65:48

Efe Ambrose concedes a free kick for a foul on Sulley Muntari. Efe Ambrose receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour. Mario Balotelli shoots direct from the free kick against the wall.

65:08

The ball is crossed by Antonio Nocerino. Fraser Forster catches the ball.

64:22

Unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli by Charlie Mulgrew results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Antonio Nocerino.

63:56

Corner taken by Kris Commons. Antonio Nocerino manages to make a clearance.

63:42

Georgios Samaras takes a shot. Blocked by Cristian Zapata.

63:25

Centre by Mikael Lustig. Christian Abbiati parries the ball away.

63:10

Emilio Izaguirre gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Urby Emanuelson. Free kick taken by Antonio Nocerino.

62:31 Substitution

Substitution Urby Emanuelson on for Valter Birsa.

61:59

Kevin Constant crosses the ball. Header at goal by Sulley Muntari goes over the bar.

61:15

The referee blows for offside. Fraser Forster takes the free kick.

59:59

The ball is sent over by Anthony Stokes. Georgios Samaras takes a shot.

59:48

The ball is swung over by Charlie Mulgrew.

59:17

Corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew from the left by-line. Clearance made by Sulley Muntari.

59:01

Kris Commons takes a shot. Philippe Mexes gets a block in.

57:45

Georgios Samaras fouled by Nigel De Jong, the ref awards a free kick. Kris Commons takes the free kick.

56:30

Georgios Samaras fouled by Antonio Nocerino, the ref awards a free kick. Emilio Izaguirre takes the free kick.

55:59

The ball is sent over by Valter Birsa.

55:23

Corner taken by Valter Birsa. Header at goal by Cristian Zapata goes right of the post.

55:09

Mario Balotelli has an effort at goal. Mikael Lustig gets a block in.

54:54

Antonio Nocerino takes a shot. Emilio Izaguirre gets a block in.

54:44

The ball is delivered by Mario Balotelli. Emilio Izaguirre manages to make a clearance.

54:27

Antonio Nocerino produces a cross.

54:05

Foul by Georgios Samaras on Antonio Nocerino, free kick awarded. Valter Birsa takes the free kick.

53:41

Anthony Stokes challenges Cristian Zaccardo unfairly and gives away a free kick. Cristian Zaccardo restarts play with the free kick.

52:57

Mario Balotelli takes a shot.

51:33

Georgios Samaras concedes a free kick for a foul on Valter Birsa. Cristian Zaccardo restarts play with the free kick.

50:14

Georgios Samaras takes a shot and went wide of the right hand upright.

48:23

Centre by Adam Matthews that comes to nothing.

47:09

Corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew.

46:46

The ball is sent over by Mikael Lustig. Cristian Zapata makes a clearance.

45:39

Kris Commons takes a shot and missed to the left of the net.

45:01

The referee gets the second half started.

45:00 +1:43 Half time

Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.

45:00 +1:19

Shot by Sulley Muntari went harmlessly over the bar.

45:00 +1:00

Valter Birsa decides to take a short corner.

45:00 +0:29

Mario Balotelli takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Fraser Forster dives and deflects the ball away.

45:00 +0:11

The ball is delivered by Antonio Nocerino. Clearance made by Efe Ambrose.

44:28

Philippe Mexes takes a shot. Blocked by Efe Ambrose.

42:22

Adam Matthews crosses the ball. Christian Abbiati safely holds on.

41:42

Sulley Muntari takes a shot.

41:15

Corner from the right by-line taken by Valter Birsa. Emilio Izaguirre manages to make a clearance.

40:36

Free kick awarded for a foul by Georgios Samaras on Cristian Zapata. Christian Abbiati restarts play with the free kick.

40:23

Corner taken by Kris Commons. Cristian Zapata makes a clearance.

39:53

Anthony Stokes takes a shot. Blocked by Philippe Mexes.

38:21

The referee gives a free kick against Nigel De Jong for handball. Free kick crossed by Charlie Mulgrew. Clearance by Cristian Zapata.

37:21

The ball is swung over by Mikael Lustig. Blocked by Sulley Muntari.

36:01

Corner from the left by-line taken by Kris Commons. Clearance made by Philippe Mexes.

32:43

Adam Matthews sends in a cross. Sulley Muntari gets a block in.

31:44

Unfair challenge on Georgios Samaras by Antonio Nocerino results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Emilio Izaguirre.

31:00

Antonio Nocerino takes a shot.

30:32

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Cristian Zaccardo by Georgios Samaras. Antonio Nocerino takes the free kick.

29:23

Mario Balotelli concedes a free kick for a foul on Scott Brown. Free kick taken by Virgil van Dijk.

24:02

Corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew from the right by-line. Sulley Muntari manages to make a clearance.

23:31

Centre by Emilio Izaguirre. Philippe Mexes makes a clearance.

22:23

Anthony Stokes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Philippe Mexes. Philippe Mexes restarts play with the free kick.

21:41

Kris Commons has an effort at goal and missed to the right of the target.

20:36

Corner taken by Valter Birsa from the right by-line. Clearance made by Efe Ambrose.

20:15

Alessandro Matri takes a shot. A parry by Fraser Forster prevents the goal.

19:31

Foul by Virgil van Dijk on Sulley Muntari, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Christian Abbiati.

18:34

Kris Commons decides to take the corner short.

18:03

Corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew from the right by-line.

17:31

Charlie Mulgrew takes a shot. Blocked by Kevin Constant.

16:12

Kris Commons takes the free kick.

15:36

Mikael Lustig sends in a cross.

13:47

Foul by Mikael Lustig on Mario Balotelli, free kick awarded. Philippe Mexes takes the free kick.

13:30

The ball is sent over by Adam Matthews.

11:33

The ball is swung over by Scott Brown. Philippe Mexes makes a clearance.

11:04

Valter Birsa concedes a free kick for a foul on Emilio Izaguirre. Efe Ambrose takes the free kick.

9:41

Mario Balotelli has an effort at goal. Adam Matthews gets a block in.

9:03

Corner taken by Charlie Mulgrew. Christian Abbiati catches the ball.

7:23

Corner from the left by-line taken by Valter Birsa.

7:06

Valter Birsa takes a shot. Fraser Forster blocks the ball.

6:19

Charlie Mulgrew concedes a free kick for a foul on Mario Balotelli. Sulley Muntari takes the free kick.

5:17

Antonio Nocerino takes a shot. Fraser Forster catches the ball.

4:30

Foul by Georgios Samaras on Cristian Zaccardo, free kick awarded. Cristian Zaccardo takes the free kick.

4:07

Shot by Antonio Nocerino went wide left of the target.

3:45

Mario Balotelli takes a shot. Fraser Forster parries the ball away.

2:50

Philippe Mexes takes a shot and went wide right of the target.

2:34

Sulley Muntari delivers the ball. Clearance by Efe Ambrose.

2:04

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Antonio Nocerino by Emilio Izaguirre. Cristian Zaccardo takes the free kick.

0:19

Cristian Zaccardo concedes a free kick for a foul on Georgios Samaras. Strike on goal comes in from Kris Commons from the free kick and goes over the bar.

0:00

The match has kicked off.

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