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AC Milan 2 United 3

Before last night I had seen United three times in the San Siro; two losses against AC and a draw against Inter, without us scoring in any of them. And then, like London buses, three goals come along for us at once. I know the second  leg is yet to be played and we are far from in the draw for the next round, but this was a huge result under enormous stress and pressure that should be milked for all it is worth.

We arrived in Milan late morning on the day of the game, a large group of us travelling together which included two flying in from Kuwait and another on his first European Away. Tickets were all in hand, hotels booked, lunch eaten and off we went to the Duomo and surrounding area to soak up the atmosphere. It was quieter than usual, perhaps because United had a smaller allocation than usual and also as less Reds would have travelled without tickets then previous semi final games etc.

After an uneventful day in the bleak weather we headed to the ground on a slow tram sat in rush hour traffic. About two thirds of the way there, in typical Italian fashion, we were thrown off the tram and they divided Reds from the home fans and sent us towards a separate bus. We watched shuttle bus after shuttle bus take the home fans to the ground, but our one bus full of Reds (well, Green and Golds) just sat there for ages. It was also noticed that our vehicle had steel bars and mesh across the windows and was clearly being primed for a hostile voyage, if the driver ever arrived. Having seen this all before we hid our scarves, ducked off the bus ignored the shouting Italian police trying to keep us on, and got onto one of the Milan buses which sure enough whisked us to the stadium in no time. I wonder if the away bus ever made it!

The San Siro is amazing from the outside, extremely imposing and daunting to arrive at, and we made our way around three sides of it to get to the away turnstiles. It was a long climb up round the revolving ramps to that top tier and on arrival at the top it looked like our view was the same as the Sky blimp’s! The front half of our section all had a poor view due to the perspex screens that they built seemingly just to annoy us. So we made our way even higher to a point where we could just about see both goals- something you tend to take for granted in a football stadium usually! One of our lot was missing and ut turned out he had got absolutely smashed, wondered into the wrong end, his ticket worked in the barcode machine and he ended up celebrating Rooney’s goals from the middle tier of the opposite end. Hillarious, and unsurprinsgly he had a few bumps and bruises to show for his troubles as the home fans wouldn’t have appreciated his prescence too much.

On the pitch United started awfully. Not only by giving a goal away but by letting Ronaldinho run at us time and time again. We looked as poor as we had done in 2007 there and I just did not see us getting back in it. But having faith in United usually turns out alright; Scholes’ very lucky finish levelled the scores and we hung on until half time. In the second half Milan looked knackered and United played them off the park. Rooney was outstanding and and by far the most impressive player on the pitch. Beckham was taken off and received a fantastically warm reception from the United end, to which he applauded several times in return. Giving away the goal to let them finish 3-2 was a shame, but we are still in pole position and the result was still absolutely sensational.

The form some of our players are in is immense. the confidence shown at Villa with 10 men rolled over to last night and going a goal down just did not seem to change our game plan or affect the spirit. Yes the defending was awful at times, but you should expect the home team at the San Siro with world class players to create chances and ultimately we put more away than they did.

After the game we were held in for around 45 minutes and then shuffled back down the walkways and were all shunted into the coach park regardless of where we were trying to get to. it was then back into town to celebrate. Well done Reds, you did us proud, and all of a sudden we look good enough to beat anyone.

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