AC Milan produced another disjointed home performance as they were held 0-0 by Anderlecht in their opening Champions League Group C match.
Milan failed to find the net for the third home game in succession as their worrying start to the season continued against a resolute Anderlecht side.
Having lost back-to-back home games in the Serie A for the first time since the 1930-31 season, Milan looked like a side short of confidence and struggled to break down a solid Anderlecht as the match ended in an uninspiring goalless draw and a less than half capacity stadium jeered off the home team.
Fielding a side without key players Alexandre Pato and Robinho, Milan struggled to find any tempo with their passing and movement and it was the visitors who settled the better.
Guillaume Gillet found space wide on the right to whip in an early dangerous ball onto the head of Brazilian Kanu but the striker headed over the bar from the first chance of the game. Anderlecht had another great opportunity to take a shock lead within the opening five minutes but Marcin Wasilewski scuffed his shot only yards out.
The Belgians continued to press, Sacha Klejstan seeing his fierce shot tipped around the post by Christian Abbiati as a Milan side who have already lost twice at home this season looked sluggish and unable to cope with the pace of Kanu and Dieudonne Mbokani.
It was fully 15 minutes before the home side saw their first sight of goal, Luca Antonini heading wide after ghosting into the box. Moments later, Milan should have been ahead and possibly would have been had Mattia De Sciglio’s cross shot fallen to Giampaolo Pazzini instead of Mathieu Flamini, the former Arsenal man slicing his effort straight into Silvio Proto’s legs.
Proto was again in the right place at the right time to save from Kevin-Prince Boateng, then Urby Emanuelson on the half volley but in truth it would have been harsh on the Belgian side. Such was Anderlecht’s dominance in possession, the stat before half-time read the visitors having the edge in possession and Milan were happy to go into the break to gather their thoughts on level terms.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri must have had some stern words to say at half time as Milan came out looking a more determined side, pressing Anderlecht deep. Boeteng crossed into an unmarked Nocerino, who should have buried his header despite being wrongly flagged offside. But Anderlecht spurned the best chance of the evening when Lucas Biliga shot over the bar with just the keeper to beat.
Proto again had to be at his absolute best to save substitute Stephan El Shaarawy’s point blank header and he then turned provider for Emanuelson but he lacked composure, leaning back and blasting his effort well over.
Anderlecht were worthy of a point and next host Malaga as under-pressure Allegri must take his Milan side on a tough trip to St. Petersburg.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Marcin Wasilewski – Anderlecht. Marshalled the defence excellently and ran his socks off all night, frequently disrupting Milan’s sporadic attacks.
Anderlecht: Proto 7, Deschacht 6, Nuytinck 6, Kouyate 6, Wasilewski 8, Biliga 7, Klejstan 6, Gillet 6, Kanu 7, Mbokani 7, Bruno 7. SUBS: Juhasz 6, Praet 7.
MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS