AC Milan are just a point away from the UEFA Champions League (UCL) knockouts, after strolling to a comfortable 4-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb. In doing so, the seven-time European champions became the first side to win away at Zagreb since December 2021, as the Croatian outfit were eliminated from the competition.
After watching RB Salzburg lose to Chelsea in Group E’s earlier fixture, both of these sides knew that only a win would keep their destiny in their own hands. Yet, given the club’s comparatively rich history of success on the continent, Milan’s subsequent lack of urgency was surprising. Against expectations, it was the hosts who pressed first for an opener, as Robert Ljubičić fired just wide for Zagreb, before Luka Ivanušec forced Ciprian Tătărușanu into a comfortable save.
But the Rossoneri finally kicked into gear after the half-hour mark, and started to find some quality in the final third. Pierre Kalulu’s fizzed cross from the right found Olivier Giroud, whose powerful header was well denied by Dominik Livaković, before the visitors broke the deadlock moments later. Sandro Tonali’s free-kick was brilliantly delivered into a dangerous area, where Matteo Gabbia met it with a powerful diving header, scoring his first goal for the club.
Stefano Pioli’s men picked up where they left off after HT, doubling their advantage within four minutes of the restart when Rafael Leão finally broke his UCL duck for the season. Showing some true Portuguese class, he dribbled straight through the heart of the Zagreb defence before emphatically finishing at the near post, putting Dinamo on the brink of seeing their long unbeaten home run end at 23 games.
And the game was wrapped up by the hour mark when Tonali was brought down by Ljubičić inside the area. Giroud slammed a regal penalty into the top corner, before Ljubičić scored a comical own goal to seal his side’s fate in agonising fashion. Milan’s work long done, the closing minutes were a quieter affair as Dinamo inwardly begged for the FT whistle.
Milan leapfrog Salzburg into second place in the group, and they’ll face the Austrian champions in their final outing, knowing anything other than a loss secures their first passage to the UCL knockouts since 2013/14. As for Dinamo, they have nothing but time left in the UCL, making it six defeats from as many meetings with Milan in a truly chastening way.