ZAGREB, Croatia (AP)Seven-time European champion AC Milan is on the verge of returning to the Champions League knockout stage for the first time in nine years.
A second-half goal from Rafael Leao helped Milan to a dominant 4-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday to move into second spot in Group E. The Rossoneri now just need to avoid defeat at home to Salzburg next week to secure their spot in the last 16.
Matteo Gabbia gave Milan the lead before Leao’s solo effort and a penalty by Olivier Giroud. Dinamo midfielder Robert Ljubicic had conceded the penalty and he also scored an own goal as his side fell to its first home defeat of the year.
Chelsea beat Salzburg in the other match in the group to secure its spot in the next round.
Before Gabbia opened the scoring he saved Milan at the other end, with a goal-line clearance to keep out Sadegh Moharrami’s header with goalkeeper Ciprian Tataru?anu stranded.
Milan was dominating and finally found its way through via an unlikely source, six minutes before halftime. Gabbia had only scored one club goal in his professional career – in the Italian third division, more than four years ago – but got his second with a diving header at the back post after a free kick by Sandro Tonali.
Milan doubled its lead four minutes after the break. Leao gathered the ball in his own half and raced down the left, beating four defenders before slotting into the near bottom corner.
Leao has scored five goals in Serie A this season but it was his first in Europe this campaign.
And Milan was out of sight by the 59th minute when Tonali was brought down by Ljubicic and Giroud converted the resulting penalty.
Matters got even worse for Ljubicic 10 minutes later as he tried to clear Leao’s cut-back but the ball ricocheted off him and into the back of the net.
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