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A first-half penalty from Rivaldo was enough to secure AC Milan's progress to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals by virtue of a 1-0 victory against FC Lokomotiv Moskva in Russia.
Same old story
The Italian side chalked up their fourth consecutive 1-0 Group C win thanks to Rivaldo's successful spot-kick, which was given for a foul on Filippo Inzaghi and all but ended Lokomotiv's hopes of reaching the last eight.
The best two chances of the opening quarter fell to Clarence Seedorf, who could have scored with the first and should have scored with the second. On 15 minutes, Rivaldo's curling free-kick found the Dutchman's boot, but he shot straight at Sergei Ovchinnikov from eight metres. Seven minutes later the Lokomotiv goalkeeper made a superb save to deny the 26-year-old when he looked certain to score. Serginho's deep cross found the dreadlocked midfield player unmarked but his volley was parried clear.
Rivaldo on the spot
Milan's penalty came 34 minutes into the game when a long ball forward caught out Vadim Evseev and the Lokomotiv defender wrapped his arm around Inzaghi, pulling him to ground. Rivaldo, who battled through a bout of 'flu to feature at the Lokomotiv stadium, took a short run-up and stroked the ball casually into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Milan looked comfortable from that point until the break, but the Russian side came out in more determined mood after the interval. Sergei Ignashevitch miscued when a clever dummy gave him a clear sight of goal, although it appeared that Lokomotiv's pressure would pay off. However, the pendulum soon swung back in Milan's favour. After Thabo Mnguni felled Fernando Redondo 25 metres from goal on 53 minutes, Seedorf bent the ensuing free-kick around the defensive wall only to see Ovchinnikov save.
Two minutes later Rivaldo picked out Inzaghi with a lofted pass which the Italian volleyed into the side-netting. At the other end, where Paolo Maldini was making a record 118th appearance in European club competition, substitute Ruslan Pimenov brilliantly controlled a high ball before setting up the onrushing Vladimir Maminov, whose effort soared over the crossbar.
As the game drew to a close, Milan seemed marginally more likely to score and the fresh legs of substitute Jon Dahl Tomasson carried him past Gennadi Nizhegorodov, who clipped the Dane's heels to gift the visitors a free-kick. Rivaldo rifled the set-piece narrowly over the Lokomotiv crossbar from distance but by that stage another three points for the Rossoneri had been sewn up.
Suspensions to come
Bookings for Gennaro Gattuso, Dmitri Loskov and Nizhegorodov mean each of them will miss their sides' next Champions League matches. Milan are at home to Real Madrid CF in a fortnight's time, the same night that Lokomotiv travel to Germany to tackle BV Borussia Dortmund.
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