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UEFA Champions League Group C wrap: Milan battle through

AC Milan advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League after labouring to a 3-1 win over Anderlecht on Wednesday.

Anderlecht started the game impressively but were unable to make the most of their superior possession due to a lack of creativity.

They were punished early in the second half when Stephan El Shaarawy put the Serie A giants ahead at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.

After Bram Nuytinck was shown a red card, Philippe Mexes netted one of the goals of the competition so far to secure the points.

Tom De Sutter did pull one back for the Belgian outfit but Alexandre Pato restored the two-goal cushion in stoppage time.

Milan put a poor opening period behind them as they found the net two minutes after the restart.

Mattia De Sciglio’s deep cross was controlled exquisitely by El Shaarawy and with his second touch he curled a superbly-placed shot past Silvio Proto.

The hosts were regularly hitting a brick wall as they looked to find a route to goal, and any hopes of a comeback were extinguished in the space of one minute.

Nuytinck was dismissed in the 70th minute as he took away Pato’s legs with the Brazilian ready to go through on goal, but the real blow came from the resultant free-kick.

With his back to goal, Mexes controlled the delivery on his chest and improvised magnificently to loop a stunning overhead kick past an idle Proto from the edge of the area.

John van den Brom brought on De Sutter in the 75th minute and the change proved beneficial as the striker poked in from close range moments later.

Milan took full advantage of an Anderlecht desperate for an equaliser as El Shaarawy burst past the defence before sliding the ball across to Pato for a simple finish in stoppage time.

Zenit St Petersburg came from two goals down to seal a 2-2 draw at home to Malaga.

The visitors shocked the hosts to race into a two-goal lead inside nine minutes, with Diego Buonanotte and Sebastian Fernandez handing their side an early advantage.

A romping start to the second half from the hosts saw them grab a deserved lifeline courtesy of a Danny finish, and the St Petersburg side completed a deserved comeback late on when Viktor Fayzulin emphatically rifled home.

Wed 21 November, 2012
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