Milan tightened their grip on second placed in Group H, all while eliminating Celtic from the UEFA Champions League, with their 3-0 win at Celtic Park on Tuesday evening in the penultimate match of the group stages.
Ricardo Kaka and Mario Balotelli both got on the scoresheet for the Rossoneri as they helped inspire their team to a crucial win which moves them two points short of leaders Barcelona.
Milan came into the game on the back of their worst run in 12 years and they were hoping to turn the tide with a win over the Scottish outfit.
It would be easier said than done; however, as Celtic still had much to play for in the Champions League and they knew that a win could help see them move to second place in Group H.
The Rossoneri were the first to offer an effort at goal though in the third minute. Mario Balotelli shrugged off Efe Ambrose easily and smashed a shot at goal on the turn but it flashed wide of the right-hand post.
Cristian Zapata made a crucial interception to deny Celtic of the chance of going 1-0 up when Charlie Mulgrew was clean on goal and just had the ‘keeper to beat. However his shot, which was interrupted by Zapata’s interception, was directed wide at the far post.
But it was Milan snatched the lead after just 11 minutes when Ricardo Kaka, who was left completely unmarked in the box, nodded home Valter Birsa’s corner kick.
The goal marked a good response from the Hoops and they started taking the game to the Italian giants with some well worked counter-attacking football.
But just before the half hour, Kaka made a great run from inside his own half up to the box. He passed the ball to Balotelli, who was on the right flank, only to see the Italian missile his shot just inches over the crossbar.
The Brazilian then unleashed a curling shot from range, before Celtic where handed an injury blow in the shape of Beram Kayal. He was replaced by the 26-year-old Joe Ledley.
Balotelli thought he had made it 1-0, five minutes before the break, when he got onto the end of a long pass and stabbed the ball past Fraser Forster only to see it ruled out for offside.
Celtic squandered the perfect opportunity to draw level at the restart through Virgil van Dijk, who had his powerful half-volley brilliantly punched away by Abbiati.
It proved to their detriment as Cristian Zapata made it 2-0 for the Rossoneri when he tapped home Antonio Nocerino’s cross in at the near post by less than a yard off the goalline.
The result was put beyond a doubt when Balotelli ended his goal drought by getting the better of his marker all while making a run into the box and slotted the ball past Forster on the stroke of the hour.
Milan’s win means they sit in second place on eight points, while Ajax trail one point and a position below. Celtic are bottom on three points.
Check: The Champions League Results
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