Ghanaian duo Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari are still being hailed for their heroics in the 2-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League.
The two produced two second half goals to wrap up an impressive team effort by the Rossoneri against the acclaimed best team in the world.
Barcelona are well versed in passing opponents to death by a thousand triangles, but in their vanquishing by AC Milan they discovered that tiki-taka could be trumped by catenaccio.
The headline in La Gazzetta della Sport read Barca, tanto possesso per nulla (so much possession for nothing) – underlining the pity of the Catalans’ plight as they faced the prospect of a premature Champions League exit.
Massimo Ambrosini, the Milan captain who helped to marshal his side’s superlative defensive work, said: “Maybe it’s not aesthetically beautiful, maybe it’s not very pleasant to watch, but Barcelona force you to play like that and history teaches you that Barcelona were only ever eliminated from the competition by teams who faced them in this way.”
Milan’s debt of gratitude for this momentous win was owed to Boateng and Muntari, who produced superb second-half goals and who both, remarkably, sharpened their teeth at an English club since reduced to League One and the brink of liquidation.
Portsmouth fans had much cause to be rueful at the sight of two of their alumni, both of Ghanaian descent and who appeared for Pompey in FA Cup finals, becoming the toast of San Siro by deposing the finest club side in the world.
Muntari could scarcely stop smiling, claiming: “This was the most important goal of my career.”
Paying tribute to manager Massimiliano Allegri, who must now raise the Rossoneri again for Sunday night’s Milan derby against Inter, he said: “We listened to our coach – he was fantastic in the way he set us up. Allegri was the best player for us. He instilled the discipline and laid out the perfect plan.”
Allegri simply urged his players to savour “this beautiful night”.
Their wounded adversaries did not seek to disguise the damage.
“A 2-0 defeat is a hard blow for us,” captain Carles Puyol said. “We were in control for most of the game but couldn’t create any real opportunities to score. We have confidence in our qualities but it is a hard task for us.”
Team-mate Dani Alves said: “Historically, Milan are a great side in this competition. But I believe we still have a chance.”