Milan reaches last 16 in Champions League

BY foxsports • November 23, 2010

AC Milan secured a spot in the knockout phase of the Champions League on Tuesday with a 2-0 win at Auxerre after second-half goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ronaldinho.

Milan claimed only its second win in five Champions League matches to have eight points in Group G. It joined Real Madrid in the next round.

With one match left to play, last-place Auxerre has three points, one less than Ajax with both teams eliminated. Madrid tops the group with 13 points.

Ibrahimovic scored his 11th goal in all competition this season with a powerful strike from the edge of the box after Clarence Seedorf's cross for Robinho was deflected in his path in the 64th.

Ronaldinho replaced Ibrahimovic in the 85th and struck with a curled shot at the far post in injury time.

Auxerre created several half-chances before the interval but lacked the finishing touch.

"Against these talented players, when you have a chance you need to score," Auxerre midfielder Benoit Pedretti said. "We had a good first half but we played against a wall and our crosses were not precise enough. When you look at their substitutes, you understand why they can do big matches."

Auxerre had the better start and dominated possession in the first 10 minutes but failed to break down a stubborn Milan defense.

Pedretti created his team's first chance in the third minute with a free kick which forced Christian Abbiati to a two-fisted save.

Milan went close five minutes later when Ibrahimovic deflected a long ball for Robinho but the Brazilian forward volleyed over the bar from 20 meters after chesting the ball expertly.

Abbiati kept out a fine corner from Pedretti in the ninth minute just before striker Roy Contout challenged the AC Milan keeper with a header.

Massimo Ambrosini was lucky to escape a yellow card following a two-footed tackle on Frederic Sammaritano in the 12th minute and Dariusz Dudka forced Abbiati to another save from the resulting free kick.

Auxerre kept attacking but was not a threat, while Clarence Seedorf unleashed a powerful drive just inches over the bar in the 22nd.

Milan should have scored in the 39th minute after defender Adama Coulibaly completely missed a pass on the edge of the box to set up Gennaro Gattuso in front of goal only for the midfielder to blast over.

Robinho saw his shot from close range blocked in the 58th minute as Auxerre continued its domination in the second half until Ibrahimovic beat Auxerre goalkeeper Olivier Sorin against the run of play and Ronaldinho capped his team's fine effort with a left-footed shot.