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UEFA Champions League
4 December 2012
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: T. Chapron
• Attendance: 29508
Milan will have to wait for their 400th Champions League goal as Zenit claimed their first win in Italy with that 1-0 victory. Thanks for joining me on what has been an enthralling match at the Giuseppe Meazza. Good night!
Milan will discover their Champions League fate on Thursday, December 20 when the draw is made for the knockout stages. Allegri's side could face Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Borussia Dortmund, Shakhtar Donetsk/Juventus, Bayern Munich/Valencia, Barcelona or Manchester United in the last 16.
By the way, on being subbed, Hulk refused to shake the hand of his coach Luciano Spalletti and threw his shirt down in protest. Could that spell the end of the Brazilian's short stay in Russia?
FULL TIME: MILAN 0 - 1 ZENIT. The Russian side claim their first win in Europe courtesy of Danny's first-half strike. It was a spirited performance from Luciano Spalletti's side who produced well-organised and disciplined display to frustrate Milan. Zenit advance to the Europa League whereas Milan finish Group C in second spot.
90' + 5'
Surely it is game over now? Milan launch one last attack which finds El Shaarawy on the edge of the box, but his wild drive flashes over the bar.
90' + 4'
HOW DID ZENIT NOT SCORE? With a 3-on-2 attack, Danny has options left and right. He plays in Denisov and the midfielder delays his shot, choosing to cut the ball back, where Kannunikov forces Abbiati into a smart save from point-blank range.
90' + 3'
Zenit have a great chance to secure the three points at the death when Kanunnikov bears down on goal but he is prevented by an excellent last-ditch challenge from Acerbi.
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Milan are refusing to give up hope of an equaliser and Stephan El Shaarawy cuts the ball back in the Zenit box, but the danger is excellently anticipated by Hubocan who keeps his side's clean sheet intact.
Danny looks to toe-poke a pass into the path of substitute Zyranov but the ball runs just too far and Abbiati collects. There will be five minutes of stoppage time.
All hands to the pump for Zenit now as they look to hold on to the clean sheet which will guarantee their progress to the knockout stages. Bojan tries his luck with a bending shot from the edge of the box, but is is saved easily by Malafeev.
Yellow Card Robinho
From the resulting freekick, Emanuelson floats the ball into the box, but it is comfortably claimed by Malafeev.
Yellow Card Bruno Alves
Robinho is not happy after he is sent flying by a rash challenge from Bruno Alves. The Portuguese defender is cautioned for the tackle whilst the referee also books Robinho for his retaliation.
Milan continue to probe for an equaliser and Stephan El Shaarawy comes within inches of finding it when his shot through the legs of a defender shaves past the post. Milan are getting closer...five minutes remaining.
SO CLOSE FROM ROBINHO! The Brazilian collects the ball with his back to goal, faking a backheel before sending a wonderful bending effort narrowly wide of Malafeev's post, with the goalkeeper scrambling. So unlucky!
Stephan El Shaarawy
Milan respond with a change of their own, throwing on top goalscorer Stephan El Shaarawy for Mathieu Flamini. Can he come to Milan's rescue once again?
Hulk's evening comes to an end as he is replaced by Konstantin Zyranov. Surely an attempt by Spalletti to see out these remaining eleven minutes.
Milan are looking more and more dangerous and Emanuelson looks to play in Robinho with an incise pass but Anyukov is alert to the danger, only to see his clearance strike Pazzini and ricochet fortuitiuosly into the hands of Malafeev.
Mattia De Sciglio continues to sling balls into the Zenit box from right-back but Mathieu Flamini can only send his header over the top.
BRILLIANT TACKLE FOR ANYUKOV! Bojan seizes onto a through ball by Robinho, surging into the box and he is set to pull the trigger, only to be denied by a solid challenge from the Russian right-back.
This is a good spell of possession for the Russian side who are in no rush to hurry their attacking play. Allegri's side are struggling to find that killer pass in the final third.
Axel Witsel looks to play a cute dinked pass into the path of Semak in the box, but Christian Zapata is on hand to clear the ball out for a throw.
Milan have 20 minutes to salvage something from this match. Who can score the club's 400th goal in the competition?
THAT'S HIT ROW Z! Bojan finds space on the edge of the Zenit box, rolling the ball across for Boateng, only to see the Ghanaian international's effort fly wildly high over the crossbar.
Igor Denisov looks to play a clever through pass for Hulk but the Brazilian is denied a chance on goal by the linesman's flag.
An attacking change from Massimiliano Allegri as Robinho replaces Djamel Mesbah. Can the Brazilian provide the magic to unlock the Zenit defence?
Milan look to restore parity when Emanuelson drives down the left wing but his cross is flicked just wide by the head of Pazzini. Stephan El Shaarawy warms up on the touchline.
Zenit come forward once again, this time with Semak, but his low shot from the edge of the box is comfortably saved by Abbiati.
Hulk, as we have seen him do so many times in the past, cuts inside his marker onto that powerful left boot of his, but his goalbound effort is well blocked by Acerbi and the ball loops into the gloves of Abbiati.
Yellow Card Mathieu Flamini
Flamini receives Milan's first booking of the night for a mistimed tackle on Roman Shirokov.
Mathieu Flamini has worked tirelessly in this match but he frustrates his teammates when his ambitious long-range effort bobbles wide of Malafeev's goal.
Hulk has not quite been at the races today. He does well to jink his way past Ambrosini but his slide pass, intended for the run of Danny, strikes the legs of Acerbi. That was a good opportunity for the Russian champions to double their lead.
SO CLOSE FOR MILAN! Boateng has made a bright start to the second half and his cutback from the right is directed towards goal by Pazzini, forcing Malafeev into an excellent save with his feet. Emanuelson looks to follow in the rebound but Lombaerts is on hand to hoof the ball clear.
Zenit work the ball out well to the right-hand side where Anyukov drifts into the box but he loses his footing at the vital moment and the chance breaks down.
Kevin Prince Boateng works his way into a promising position down the left but his clipped cross, intended for Bojan, is headed away excellently by Lombaerts.
Urby Emanuelson loses possession cheaply just inside the Zenit half, allowing the Russian side to launch a 3-on-2 counterattack. Danny has Semak on one side and Hulk on the other, but chooses to go it alone and is halted by a strong challenge from Acerbi. That was a let-off for Milan!
Hulk looks to force his way through on goal from Semak's through ball, but Acerbi stays strong to shovel the ball back to Abbiati. Slow start to this second half.
Yellow Card Hulk
Hulk receives a caution for a handball early into this second period. Seemed a bit harsh that.
Milan are the first to emerge for this second half. Can Allegri's side find a way back into this match? If Spalletti can mastermind a victory here tonight, it will be his fourth win in five visits to the Giuseppe Meazza.
Duda's pearler for Malaga against Anderlecht means that the Spanish side lead 1-0 at the break. It would take a dramatic turnaround for Zenit to finish in last place, but stranger things have happened in the world of football...
HALF TIME: MILAN 0 - 1 ZENIT. An exciting first half here at the Giuseppe Meazza where the Russian side lead courtesy of Danny's instinctive strike in the 35th minute. Both sides have played some good football in the opening 45 minutes without either goalkeeper really having been tested. Can Zenit hold off Allegri's side and claim their first victory in Italy? Stay tuned for the second half.
Milan nearly equalise on the stroke of half-time when Emanuelson whips in a freekick from the left, but Pazzini's glancing header flashes narrowly wide of the post.
Yellow Card Nicolas Lombaerts
De Sciglio whips in the set-piece but Lombaerts redeems himself by flicking a crucial header out for a throw.
Nicolas Lombaerts receives the first yellow card of the game for handball. Can Milan score from a freekick in a dangerous position?
Milan have reacted well to going behind and Flamini's venomous drive forces Malafeev into a smart save. Can the Rossoneri find an equaliser before the break?
Milan nearly respond with an equaliser when Flamini surges to the byline and his cross is chested down by Bojan, who attempts a speculative overhead kick but it flies narrowly wide of Malafeev's goal. He's no Philippe Mexes, is he?
1-0 ZENIT!! Danny shows his talent by playing a beautiful outside-of-the-foot pass to Semak in the box. Ambrosini tracks back excellently to make a last-ditch interception but his rebound falls into the path of Danny, who finishing clinically by firing low into the bottom right-hand corner. What an important goal that is for the Russian side!
De Sciglio is proving a real handful down the right and his deep cross to the back post is headed across goal by Mesbah, but Malafeev is off his line quickly to prevent Pazzini from converting from close range.
Mattia De Sciglio works his way into an advanced position once again, but his low cross cannot find a red and black shirt in the box, allowing Bruno Alves to clear the danger.
Danny looks the most likely to make something happen for the Russian champions and he plays a smart ball to Hulk on the right side of the box, looking for the return pass, but the Brazilian cannot return the favour and is easily intercepted.
Urby Emanuelson is not afraid to shoot from range today but he is going to need to be more accurate than that! The versatile Dutchman once again bursts forward from a deep midfield position but his attempt slices wide of the Zenit goal.
Danny looks to send Hulk away again with a lofted ball over the top of the Milan defence, but it is slightly overhit and runs into the gloves of Abbiati.
Both sides have had plenty of shooting opportunities in these 24 minutes but neither goalkeeper has really been tested. Mathieu Flamini drives forward from midfield but his swerving effort goes wide of Malafeev's post.
Milan nearly take the lead when Emanuelson's corner is flicked on at the near post by Pazzini but Zapata, who is storming in at the back post, cannot keep his effort down on the stretch and the ball loops over the bar.
Zenit are looking lively on the counter-attack and Hulk nearly gets through on goal when he bustles his way past Acerbi, but Zapata is on hand to make a timely interception and keep the scores level.
Djamel Mesbah is caught in possession, allowing Igor Denisov to release Sergei Semak down the right. The 36-year-old cuts inside two Milan defenders but he cannot quite keep his rasping drive down, and sees his effort fly narrowly over the crossbar.
Possession statistics show that both sides have enjoyed an equal share of the ball, but you get the feeling that Milan are starting to dictate the midfield battle.
Urby Emanuelson tries his luck on goal after good work down the right from Mattia De Sciglio, but Bruno Alves gets in the way to deflect the ball behind for a corner.
Zenit nearly force an opportunity on goal when Danny plays an incise through ball for Hulk, but the Brazilian striker is excellently held off by Christian Zapata, allowing Abbiati to collect.
Milan's wing-backs are getting forward well in this opening period and this time it is Djamel Mesbah who marauds down the left-hand side, but his teasing cross is excellently anticipated by Nicolas Lombaerts who clears the ball to safety.
Mattia De Sciglio forces a Milan corner but Bojan's delivery fails to beat the first man and the danger is cleared.
Good end-to-end football being played here and Milan attack with Urby Emanuelson, but his goalbound effort is expertly blocked by Aleksandr Anyukov.
Zenit come forward down the right-hand side but Hulk cannot quite divert Semak's cross towards goal and his header goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
Zenit win a corner of their own, which is driven to the edge of the box to Roman Shirokov, but the midfielder's effort drives comfortably wide of the Milan goal.
PENALTY APPEAL FOR MILAN! The home side win a corner which Emanuelson delivers into a dangerous area. Malafeev flaps at the ball and it bounces to Ambrosini who heads the ball back towards goal, where Pazzini goes down under a challenge from Alves. The referee is not interested however and waves play on.
Both sides passing the ball around nicely in the opening three minutes but neither able to force an early effort on goal.
The Milan fans are in fine voice as they get this final Champions League Group C tie underway. There is a real sense of belief around the Giuseppe Meazza that has been absent in recent weeks, with fans now convinced that Milan are on the up.
Zenit have never won a European fixture in Italy, can they end that record tonight and secure entry into the Europa league? Kick-off awaits...
For Zenit, Aleksandr Kerzhakov's injury means that Hulk will be the central striker up front. Italian left-back Dominico Criscito misses out through injury, whilst Vladimir Bystrov is suspended.
At 19 years and 342 days, Stephan El Shaarawy became Milan's youngest Champions League goalscorer when he scored against Zenit in October. However, the in-form striker, who has notched twelve league goals this Serie A campaign is handed a rest, alongside Nigel De Jong, Riccardo Montolivo and Antonio Nocerino. Philippe Mexes misses out through suspension.
Zenit (4-3-2-1): Malafeev; Anyukov, Bruno Alves, Lombaerts, Hubočan; Shirokov, Semak, Denisov; Witsel, Danny; Hulk. Subs: Baburin, Zuev, Lumb, Zyryanov, Evseev, Djordjević, Kanunnikov.
Milan (4-3-3): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Acerbi, Zapata, Mesbah; Emanuelson, Flamini, Ambrosini; Boateng, Pazzini, Bojan. Subs: Gabriel, Yepes, Nocerino, N. de Jong, Robinho, El Shaarawy.
Here is tonight's team news...
Luciano Spalletti is a familiar face with the Italian giants, having faced them regularly in his spells as coach of Udinese and Roma. In fact, Spalletti and his Milan counterpart Allegri both played, at different times, for amateur side UC Cuoiopelli.
In the reverse fixture back in October, Massimiliano Allegri's side claimed all three points, winning 3-2 in St. Petersburg, despite surrendering a two-goal lead. With qualification in the bag, Allegri could be tempted to shuffle his pack, especially with the difficult away trip to Torino on the horizon.
Good evening and welcome to Goal.com's live commentary of the Uefa Champions League clash between Milan and Zenit St. Petersburg. The Italian side have already secured their place in the knockout stages, but the Russians need to better the result of Anderlecht, who are away to Malaga, if they are to advance to the Europa League. Bringing you all the action as it unfolds from the Giuseppe Meazza, my name is Max Bentley. Feel free to let me know your predictions and thoughts on the game via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
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