Kingsley Boateng’s goal was the difference as AC Milan secured third place in the Audi Cup with a 1-0 win over Sao Paulo at the Allianz Arena.
Substitute Boateng made the breakthrough in the second half when he latched onto a through ball and slid under Denis in the Sao Paulo goal.
It was one of few highlights from a pedestrian match as the teams lacked spark and looked jaded from their respective semi-finals on Wednesday.
Both sides entered the game on the back of two goal defeats but any lingering disappointment was not evident as they settled down and looked to play sharp, intricate football.
Milan youngster Jherson Vergara survived an early scare when he twice gifted possession to Sao Paulo but Marco Amelia in the Milan goal spared the Colombian’s blushes. Stephen El-Shaarawy, who looked lively throughout, then almost opened the scoring when his volley from distance curled agonisingly wide of Denis’ left-hand post.
The Italians dominated possession but could not find a decent delivery when it mattered which allowed the Brazilians to keep parity.
And Sao Paulo almost capitalised on their opponent’s wastefulness when Maicon was allowed to turn inside the Milan half and fire an effort at goal which almost caught Amelia by surprise, before the Milan stopper saved his side again after Bryan Cristante had gifted the ball to Aloisio.
Milan then almost scored on the stroke of half-time but Andrea Petagna’s effort deflected onto the bar after good work from M’Baye Niang.
Kingsley Boateng was brought on half-time for the Italians and the youngster nearly made an immediate impact when he narrowly missed making contact with a fine Andrea Poli cross from the wing.
But the striker didn’t have to wait long to score the opener as he raced onto a through ball to slide home under Denis and give Milan the lead.
Poli was lucky to stay on the pitch after a cynical foul denied Sao Paulo a clear goal scoring opportunity, but the referee adopted the friendly spirit and only produced yellow when a harsher punishment seemed inevitable.
Changes disrupted the match as it wore on with the crowd forced to entertain themselves with a spontaneous Mexican wave as the tempo slowed significantly on the pitch. Sao Paulo did manage a late rally but they couldn’t create a meaningful chance as Milan held on to secure third place.