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By Ivan Carvalho at the San Siro
Late goals from Filippo Inzaghi and Andrea Pirlo gave AC Milan a 3-1 victory and maximum points at the San Siro in their Group F tie with Celtic FC, who have yet to win a point away from home in the UEFA Champions League.
The Glasgow club, who had lost all six of their previous away games in the competition, faced an uphill battle from the opening whistle, as Carlo Ancelotti's Milan looked to secure victory before their eagerly anticipated match with FC Barcelona on Matchday 3.
Milan did not have to wait long to celebrate as Andriy Shevchenko, who was celebrating his 28th birthday, received the perfect gift in the form of a smart pass from the galloping Kaká that he converted with a left-footed shot, to give the home side the lead on eight minutes.
With Celtic strikers John Hartson and Henri Camara struggling to make an impact through the centre, Celtic manager Martin O'Neill looked to use the speed of wingers Alan Thompson and Didier Agathe down the flanks, to expose the Milan defence. His tactics almost bore fruit when Alessandro Nesta failed to clear Agathe's cross, but there was no one on hand to convert.
Celtic's best chance of the half fell to Stanislav Varga on 24 minutes, the defender finding space in the Milan area only to send his header wide. Milan responded immediately, Kaká breaking past his marker down the left before crossing to Jon Dahl Tomasson, but Marshall tipped the ball away.
Milan did not let up and Tomasson's quick thinking nearly led to a second goal. The Danish forward headed Pirlo's long pass into the path of Shevchenko who latched on to the ball but saw his shot cleared by Celtic defender Dianbobo Balde's spectacular bicycle-kick.
Milan were in control, and should have extended their advantage on 44 minutes when Shevchenko and Kaká combined again to split the Celtic defence. The Ukrainian took the ball off Balde on the right side of the area and teed up his team-mate, but the Brazilian fired almost directly at Marshall who blocked with his hands.
Celtic, spurred on by an estimated 7,000 travelling fans, opened the second half with more confidence, Henri Camara charging past Nesta before unleashing a shot that Dida did well to block. An injury to midfield player Alan Thompson forced O'Neill into making a change, but the introduction of Brazilian playmaker Juninho Paulista only added to Celtic's forward momentum.
On 64 minutes, Hartson's cross was misjudged by Dida, but Cafu came to his rescue as Celtic stepped up their pressure. Camara seized on a rare Paolo Maldini error but was unable to get past Dida. Persistence finally paid ten minutes later when Varga beat his marker and sent a fine header past Dida.
Ancelotti wasted no time in making a double substitution after the equaliser, with Inzaghi coming on for Tomasson and the ineffective Clarence Seedorf making way for Massimo Ambrosini. The changes reinvigorated Milan, who reclaimed the lead in the 89th minute when Inzaghi touched Shevchenko's pass beyond Marshall.
A minute later, Pirlo's free-kick was deflected off the Celtic wall, leaving Marshall helpless as the ball rolled into the net for Milan's third. The victory takes Milan level at the top of the group with Barcelona, who they meet on Matchday 3. Celtic take on FC Shakhtar Donetsk with both sides still looking for their first point.
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