|(Champions League) Weakened Milan rattle Celtic
After striking two late goals injury-hit AC Milan earned a scrappy 2-0 victory at home in Milan, Italy, over Celtic in their opening match in Champions League Group H Wednesday.
Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre deflected Cristian Zapata's effort into the back of his own net eight minutes from fulltime, before another stroke of luck saw Sulley Muntari seal the win two minutes later, AP reports.
Milan were clearly understrength and struggled to carve out opportunities against a side widely deemed to be the weakest in the group, although Muntari missed an open goal from six yards. Anthony Stokes hit the woodwork for Celtic.
Barcelona beat Ajax 4-0 in the other Group H match.
Milan started off well and could have taken an early lead _ had Mario Balotelli not volleyed straight at Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Milan seemed in control but were struggling to carve out opportunities while Celtic were content to sit back and soak up the pressure and attempt to hit back on the counter attack.
The Scottish side were awarded an indirect free kick 10 meters out in the 18th minute after Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati was adudged to have handled a Zapata backpass.
However, with practically the whole Milan team on the goal line it was almost impossible for Celtic to score and Kevin Constant cleared Charlie Mulgrew's shot for a corner.
Alessandro Matri had scored in both legs of Juventus' quarterfinal victory over Celtic last season and he almost did so again in the 21st minute but Forster did well to parry his close-range header.
Milan again almost scored shortly after the half hour mark but Antonio Nocerino's fierce effort from the edge of the area scraped the top of the crossbar.
Milan struggled to find any rhythm and the home fans were beginning to get impatient. Milan almost gifted Celtic the lead five minutes from halftime when they lost the ball in its own half. Zapata got back but slipped in the penalty area, allowing Stokes an effort on goal, which was deflected out for a corner.
Celtic came out in the second half confident and almost took the lead five minutes after the restart when Giorgios Samaras was allowed to race towards the penalty area before unleashing a powerful shot which flew narrowly past the right post.
Milan should have broken the deadlock in the 63rd but Muntari headed wide from six with the goal gaping.
Celtic went even closer in the 80th but Stokes' free kick crashed off the corner of the left post and crossbar.
Milan scored two minutes later when Zapata's low shot was deflected into the bottom right corner by Izaguirre. Zapata thought he had scored his first goal for Milan, but it was later awarded as an own goal.
Milan doubled the lead shortly afterwards following another moment of fortune. Forster pulled off a great save to keep out Balotelli's free kick but Muntari tapped in the follow up.