Champions League - Zenit beat AC Milan to claim Europa spot

Champions League Group C, San Siro - AC Milan 0 Zenit St Petersburg 1 (Danny 35)

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Champions League - Zenit beat AC Milan to claim Europa spot
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AC Milan's Colombian defender Cristian Zapata (L) fights for the ball with FC Zenith's Brazilian forward Hulk (C) during the Champions league match between AC Milan and Zenith St Petersburg

Zenit St Petersburg secured their place in the Europa League after a 1-0 win over AC Milan at the San Siro saw the visitors finish third in Champions League Group C.

Zenit captain Danny scored the only goal of the game in the 35th minute to secure the Russian side’s first ever win on Italian soil.

Milan had already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League with their 3-1 win over Anderlecht last time out. Malaga’s 2-2 draw at home to Anderlecht meant the Andalucians go through as group winners.

Milan felt that they should have been awarded a penalty in the fourth minute. Giampaolo Pazzini was bundled to the floor by Bruno Alves at a corner, but referee Tony Chapron was having none of it and waved play on.

Zenit scored the only goal of the game 10 minutes before the interval. Ambrosini seemed to have dealt with the danger as the ball dropped to Sergei Semak in the area, but 29-year-old Danny, who missed nine months of action with a cruciate injury sustained in February, reacted quickest to steer the loose ball low past Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.

Zenit sat back and invited Milan onto them, but although the Serie A side had plenty of possession in the final 10 minutes of the half, they were limited to half-chances. Bojan saw an overhead kick float wide then Zenit goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev was forced into an ungainly save from a 30-yard effort by Mathieu Flamini.

Fewer than 30,000 supporters turned out for what was effectively a meaningless game for Milan, and there was precious little entertainment on show as a reward for their loyalty.

Malafeev did brilliantly to deny Pazzini with his feet early in the second half from Kevin-Prince Boateng's cross from the left, and substitute Robinho impressed in spurts after his introduction midway through the second-half.

But the impressive Zenit centre-half pairing of Alves and Nicolas Lombaerts held firm as the Russians secured third place in the group with only their second away Champions League win in 12 outings.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Bruno Alves - Zenit St Petersburg: The defender dealt superbly with the twin threat of Bojan and Pazzini as the Russians recorded their first clean sheet in eight games.

PLAYER RATINGS

AC MILAN: Abbiati 6; De Sciglio 7, Zapata 7, Acerbi 7, Mesbah 6; Flamini 6, Ambrosini 6, Emanuelson 7; Boateng 6, Pazzini 6, Bojan 7. Subs: Robinho 7, El Shaarawy 7, Petagna 6.

ZENIT ST PETERSBURG: Malafeev 7; Anyukov 7, Alves 8, Lombaerts 8, Hubocan 7; Witsel 6, Shirokov 6, Denisov 6; Semak 7, Hulk 5, Danny 7. Subs: Lumb 6, Zyryanov 6, Kanunnikov 6.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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