Anderlecht have not played in the Champions League for six years and they haven’t achieved much since the days when Jan Koller, Tomasz Radzinski and Walter Baseggio gave Manchester United – with Gary Neville, DavidBeckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs – a good beating in 2000. Last night wasn’t quite up to that standard, but John Van den Brom’s men certainly did themselves proud in a half-empty San Siro.
The final score was 0-0 but it was a better match than that sounds. Anderlecht attacked from the off and Milan must have been surprised to find themselves having to defend against a team from the Jupiler League. Despite the good football though, Anderlecht didn’t create enough chances and didn’t capitalise on the ones they did.
Milan were awful in the first half and only came to life after the break, coinciding with the timely introduction of teenager Stephan El Shaarawy on the left flank. Towards the end of the game, Lucas Biglia found his way into the opposition penalty area but blazed over. As opposed to that, Silvio Proto was called upon to make several fine saves and, indeed, the game could have gone either way.
Anderlecht can still return home with lots of positives. Guillaume Gillet performed admirably at full back and seemed to spend most of the first 45 minutes in the Milan half. Cheikhou Kouyaté was given the job of shackling Kevin-Prince Boateng and did the job well, while Dieumerci Mbokani made a welcome return. The most interesting performance of the night came from the coach; Van den Brom fooled the media by putting out a team formation that no one forecast. That’s good for football and it’s hard for the opposition to counter. Let’s have more surprises, that will help make football the game it should be.