By DAN KARELL
It’s rare to see a somewhat recent UEFA Champions League winner have to fight their way in to the competition, but that’s exactly what AC Milan is doing right now.
The Italian club drew their first match in the play-off round at PSV Eindhoven, 1-1, giving themselves an away-goal advantage as the tie heads to the San Siro next week. Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy opened the scoring in the 15th minute on a cross from teammate Ignazio Abate, and Mario Balotelli nearly gave Milan a two-goal lead just seconds later, hitting the crossbar.
However, the Dutch team, with an average age of 21 in the starting lineup on the day, regained their composure and scored a second-half equalizer to bring the PSV crowd to their feet. Jeffrey Bruma, formerly of Chelsea, took a long range strike that Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati couldn’t handle, and PSV’s Tim Matavz headed in.
In other Champions League action on Tuesday, Real Sociedad took a huge 2-0 lead over Lyon thanks to two superb goals, Zenit St. Petersburg routed Paços de Ferreira, 4-1, Viktoria Plzen defeated Maribor, 3-1, and in a stunning result, Shakhter Karagandy defeated Celtic, 2-0.
Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:
LEWANDOWSKI STAYING AT BORUSSIA THIS SEASON
German side Borussia Dortmund have been given a massive boost for this season, as forward Robert Lewandowski confirmed on Wednesday that he’d remain at the Signal Iduna Park until his contract ends next summer.
On his 25th birthday, Lewandowski has also received a reported pay raise of €3.5 million, putting his salary for this season at €5 million, according to German media reports. Lewandowski was the subject of serious transfer rumors all spring and summer, with an impending move to Bayern Munich seeming to be only a matter of time.
However, it looks like Borussia are satisfied to let the Polish international leave on a free transfer next summer if he’d like. Borussia already lost Mario Götze to Bayern Munich this summer, and weren’t willing to help their German rivals to two players in one summer.
Lewandowski, who famously scored four goals against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals last April, scored 36 goals in all competitions, and has already scored two in all competitions this season, with just four games played.
JUVENTUS ISSUE “HANDS OFF” MESSAGE TO ARSENAL
Following Arsenal’s dreadful 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa last Saturday, the club is quickly trying to sign new players to improve the squad.
Of the many players rumored to be of interest, one name, Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, is reportedly the subject of an Arsenal inquiry. However, Juventus has announced publicly that they won’t be selling Pogba to any club at any price, seeing the Frenchman as a huge part of their future.
Pogba joined Juventus last summer on a free transfer from Manchester United, after the 20-year-old rejected a contract offer from Sir Alex Ferguson. In his first year in Italy, Pogba exceeded expectations by starting 18 Serie A matches, 27 in total, and scoring five goals. He also played eight times in the Champions League, helping spell midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio when they needed a break.
Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso is set for up to three months on the sidelines after breaking a bone in his right foot in training on Wednesday. (REPORT)
Valencia have rejected Arsenal’s bid for goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, saying that he’s not for sale and that the offer was way below the Spanish club’s valuation of their shot stopper. (REPORT)
Wesley Sneijder has been left off the Netherlands preliminary roster for their World Cup qualifying matches next month. (REPORT)
Despite selling Daniel Osvaldo and rumors of the sales of Marco Borriello and Erik Lamela to English clubs, Miralem Pjanic’s agent has stated that the Bosnian will be staying at AS Roma this season. (REPORT)
Pep Guardiola in lederhosen? Pep Guardiola in lederhosen. (REPORT)
What do you make of these reports? Do you see Milan making it to the group stage? Do you believe Lewandowski is smart to stay at Dortmund this season? Do you see Pogba moving to Arsenal or any other club this summer?
Share your thoughts below.