Dinamo Zagreb 0-4 Milan: Rampant Rossoneri move to the brink of Champions League qualification
Milan only need to avoid defeat against Salzburg next week to reach the last 16 of the Champions League after hammering Dinamo Zagreb.FotMob - 7 months ago
Matteo Gabbia scored his first goal for Milan as they thrashed Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 to move just a point away from the Champions League round of 16.
Chelsea's victory at Salzburg earlier on Tuesday gave Stefano Pioli's side the chance to go second in Group E and they grasped that opportunity with both hands.
Gabbia put them in front with a first-half header and they ran away with it in the second half, with Rafael Leao doubling their lead before Olivier Giroud added a third from the penalty spot.
Robert Ljubicic's bizarre own goal summed up Dinamo's night as their hopes of qualifying were emphatically ended, while Milan only need to avoid defeat in a decisive last group match against Salzburg next week to advance.
Simon Kjaer and Charles De Ketelaere had goal-bound shots blocked in a bright start from Milan, before Gabbia came to the rescue by nodding away a Mislav Orsic header that was looping in.
Dominik Livakovic palmed away a Giroud header and Josip Misic did superbly to get in the way of a shot from Ante Rebic that looked to be heading for the back of the net, but the Serie A champions were in front 39 minutes in.
The opening goal came from an unlikely source, as Gabbia punished slack defending by diving to head home a whipped Sandro Tonali free-kick from close range.
Leao gave Milan breathing space five minutes into the second half, showing great pace to drive into the penalty area from the left all too easily and capitalise on more poor defending with a clinical right-foot finish.
Milan were cruising and they had a third goal just before the hour mark, when Ljubicic upended Tonali and Giroud's spot-kick found the top-left corner.
Things went from bad to worse for Ljubicic when Giroud failed to make contact with the livewire Leao's cutback and the ball struck the midfielder on the shoulder before flying into the back of his own net.
What does it mean? Milan's fate in their own hands
Back-to-back defeats to Chelsea put Milan in real danger of being knocked out, but their fate is now in their own hands after a ruthless demolition of Dinamo.
Chelsea's 2-1 win at Salzburg ensured the Premier League club have won the group, so it is down to a showdown between the Pioli's men and the Austrian side at San Siro next week to decide who will seal second spot.
Dinamo bowed out with a whimper and they have lost all six European matches against Milan.
Gabbia grabs his chance
With Fikayo Tomori after being sent off against his former club Chelsea, Gabbia stepped in to partner Kjaer at the heart of Milan's defence.
The 23-year-old was rock solid at the back and opened his account for the club in an assured display.
Dinamo struggled to contain Leao, who scored his first Champions League goal of the season and took his tally for the campaign to six.
The Portugal forward also had a big hand in Ljubicic's freak own goal, making four key passes in an influential display.
Key Opta Facts
Milan maintained their 100 per cent record against Dinamo, with this their sixth win from six games – their best record against any side in European competition. In all but one of those matches, Milan have scored three or more goals.
The Rossoneri have scored four goals in a Champions League match for the first time since beating Arsenal 4-0 at home in the last 16 in February 2012. It's also the first time the Italian side have scored four in an away match in the competition since beating Fenerbahce 4-0 in November 2005.
Dinamo failed to score in a Champions League home match for the first time since against Lyon in November 2016 (0-1). They had six shots on target against Milan without scoring, their most without a goal since 2003-04 (when Opta began collecting this data).
Three of Giroud’s last four goals in the Champions League have come from the penalty spot, with two of those scored against Zagreb (also in home fixture in September). Giroud now has 20 Champions League goals, with 75 per cent (15) of them coming away from home.
Milan travel to Torino for a Serie A clash on Sunday, while Dinamo are away to Osijek on Saturday.