MILAN (AP) — Lionel Messi scored a first-half equalizer to earn Barcelona a 1-1 draw against AC Milan in Group H of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Robinho gave Milan a deserved lead after only nine minutes at a packed San Siro, shortly after Sulley Muntari's strike had been ruled out for offside.
The Brazilian forward linked up impressively with compatriot Kaka, who showed flashes of his old form after a disappointing few seasons at Real Madrid, and steered the ball home from close range.
Messi leveled in the 23rd from a similar range after being left in space by Milan's rearguard, taking advantage of a mistake by Milan defender Kevin Constant.
Barcelona remains atop of Group H after two wins and a draw. Milan is second, two points behind. I the other group match, Celtic picked up its first points with a 2-1 victory over Ajax.
"There's two analyses to be made about tonight," Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino said. "With regards to the group, I think it's a good point. With regards to the 90 minutes, I think we deserved more. I don't think we lacked intensity apart from maybe in the first 10-15 minutes. I'm optimistic about qualifying."
It was the seventh time in three seasons the two teams had met in the Champions League, with Milan's 2-0 home win in last year's quarterfinals its best result. Barcelona humiliated the Italian side 4-0 in the return leg.
"In these kinds of games you need a lot of focus, especially against Barcelona because if you don't have a million eyes on them, you risk letting a goal in and the lads were really good tonight," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "This squad is slowly improving, we're getting players back from injury, other players are getting fitter."
Messi, who had scored five times against Milan, started for Barcelona after recovering from a minor injury.
Milan was missing Stephan El Shaarawy and Giampaolo Pazzini up front, both out injured. Mario Balotelli had a thigh problem and was only fit for a place on the bench so Kaka — who had only just returned from injury — started alongside Robinho and Valter Birsa, with Alessandro Matri dropped to the bench.
Kaka, who previously played for Barcelona's bitter rival Real Madrid, had an impressive performance and went off to a standing ovation when he was substituted in the 71st minute.
Milan started the brighter, forcing Barcelona to defend deep at the outset and the Italian side had the ball in the back of the net in the seventh minute. Robinho carved out some space for himself on the edge of the area and threaded the ball through to Muntari, who drilled it home, but it was ruled out for offside.
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