Milan snare second spot
AC Milan booked their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Auxerre.
By Elliot Ball
Last Updated: 23/11/10 10:43pm
AC Milan have booked their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Auxerre on Tuesday evening.
In a game largely devoid of goalmouth action, second-half efforts from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ronaldinho were sufficient for the seven-time winners to book a berth in the next round of Europe's elite tournament.
Ibrahimovic's 65th-minute strike saw the on-loan striker once again prove a thorn in Auxerre's side as he grabbed his third goal against the Ligue 1 club and his fourth in five games.
Ronaldinho came off the bench to seal the tie which confirms the Italian's place in the next round as Group G runners-up to Real Madrid, while Auxerre's European endeavours in this competition were ended with defeat.
Robinho flashed an early sighter wide for the visitors on eight minutes but it was the hosts who were bossing possession and Roy Contout brought out a save from Christian Abbiati two minutes later from Dariusz Dudka's cross.
Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini was fortunate when he flew into a challenge with two feet raised but Slovenian official Damir Skomina kept his cards in his pocket.
Clarence Seedorf, on his 150th appearance in the Champions League, let fly from 25 yards midway through the first-half but his effort did not trouble Olivier Sorin between Auxerre's goalposts.
Auxerre regained their early head of steam and Valter Birsa's cross-shot had Abbiati worried before Frederic Sammaritano stung the Italian goalkeeper's palms with a long-range effort.
The hosts made a double appeal for a handball in Milan's penalty area in the 36th minute as both Ignazio Abate and Alessandro Nesta made challenges for the ball with arms flailing but the referee waved away their appeals.
Then Gennaro Gattuso refused to take Adama Coulibaly's present three minutes later as the Milan midfielder spurned a close-range opportunity after the Auxerre defender mis-controlled the ball in his own penalty area.
Ambrosini eventually got the yellow card his tough-tackling warranted for a late lunge on Delvin Ndinga in the 45th minute before Skomina blew an uninspiring first-half to an end.
The second period also failed to catch light with neither team prepared to go for broke in the early goings. Referee Skomina continued his lenient streak from the first-half as he allowed Gianluca Zambrotta to get away with a late challenge on 55 minutes.
The game at last saw a clear-cut chance two minutes later as Ibrahimovic sent Abate on his way down the right. The full-back picked out Robinho in the box but the Brazilian dwelled on the ball, allowing Coulibaly to make the interception.
Auxerre responded with two long range efforts from Ndinga and Dennis Oliech but both sailed harmlessly over the bar.
But the same cannot be said of Ibrahimovic's rifled effort two minutes later as his shot nearly burst the back of the net to at last break the deadlock.
The Swede started the move as his clever flick found Seedorf who tried to pick out Robinho down the right. The Dutchman's pass was cut out by Dudka, but the left-back could only tee up Ibrahimovic who bulleted an unstoppable shot past Sorin.
Milan looked comfortable and they added gloss to the victory in stoppage time as Ronaldinho, a late replacement for Ibrahimovic, curled a right-footed shot past the grasp of Sorin.The result, coupled with Real Madrid's 4-0 win over Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena, means that Milan qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, while Auxerre can only hope for a place in the Europa League.
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|3||Shots on Target||2|
|6||Shots off Target||4|