AC Milan progresses in Champions League

BY foxsports • December 9, 2009

AC Milan qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League after escaping with a 1-1 draw against 10-man FC Zurich on Tuesday.

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Ronaldinho scored a second-half penalty for the seven-time European champions, who were far from their best and often outplayed by their Swiss opponents.

The result was enough for Milan to reach the last 16 of the Champions League as Marseille was beaten at home 3-1 by Group C winner Real Madrid.

But it didn't come easily for the Italians.

FC Zurich dominated much of the first half and deservedly took the lead in the 29th minute on Milan Gajic's free kick from 25 meters (yards).

When the teams went into the break, Marseille and Real Madrid were even at 1-1 and Milan was in danger of missing out.

Zurich, which won 1-0 in Milan in October, looked in control until the 64th minute when Alexandre Pato was played in onside. Defender Alain Rochat tackled from behind, prompting the referee to whistle a penalty and show a red card.

Ronaldinho sent the spot kick into the lower right corner.

With the man advantage, Milan then controlled possession without creating many clear-cut chances.

"I'm proud of my team," FC Zurich coach Bernard Challandes said. "We showed that we could work together, that we could defend together and that we could attack.

Zurich was already assured last place in the group, meaning it could not progress in the Champions League or gain entry into the second-tier Europa League. It has only won three of 13 matches since beating Milan two months ago.

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