Tim Matavz's second-half strike secured a 1-1 draw for PSV as its Champions League playoff with AC Milan hangs in the balance. Stephan El Shaarawy opened the scoring for the visitors after 15 minutes with a vital away goal, connecting for a close-range header at the end of a flowing move.
Kevin-Prince Boateng released Ignazio Abate down the right-hand side and his pinpoint cross was met by the striker, who headed powerfully past Jeroen Zoet.
PSV drew level on the hour mark, as Matavz reacted quickest to head past Christian Abbiati after the goalkeeper had failed to hold a long-range Jeffrey Bruma strike. Despite late pressure, neither side could find a winner.
After being cup-tied for last season’s European campaign, Mario Balotelli was given his first start for Milan in the Champions League. He was partnered in attack by El Shaarawy and Boateng.
PSV coach Philip Cocu was dealt a blow in the lead-up to the game with the news that in-form striker Zakaria Bakkali had been ruled out with a groin injury. The 17-year-old – who has scored four goals in four games in all competitions this season – was replaced in the starting lineup by Matavz.
PSV started well, but having survived an early period of pressure Milan sprang into life in the 15th minute as El Shaarawy broke the deadlock.
The 20-year-old rose unmarked to head home Abate’s right-wing cross after some lax PSV defending. The Dutch side sought a response, and with eight minutes of the half to play Adam Maher came close to levelling, only to see his shot rattle the crossbar.
The midfielder broke at pace towards the Milan defense before holding off the challenge from Cristian Zapata and firing in his shot, only for the woodwork to come to Abbiati's rescue.
Milan should have doubled the lead early in the second half, but El Shaarawy missed two clear-cut chances after excellent work from Balotelli. The striker saw his first chance bounce wide of Zoet after a delicate chip, and his second opportunity was denied by a perfectly timed tackle from Jetro Willems.
Those misses proved to be costly as PSV equalized on the hour mark.
Bruma sent a speculative long-range effort towards goal and the ball bounced in front of Abbiati, causing it to strike him on the chest and loop into the air. And before the goalkeeper could react, Matavz pounced to head the ball into the back of the net to put the Eredivisie side level.
On-loan defender Karim Rekik had a fantastic opportunity to win the game for PSV late on, but he mistimed his header following a perfect Georginio Wijnaldum cross, as the teams head back to Milan with the Italians maintaining the away goal edge.
- Sports & Recreation
- Stephan El Shaarawy
- Christian Abbiati
- Tim Matavz
- Mario Balotelli