Filippo Inzaghi celebrated his 33rd birthday with the winner as AC Milan edged past FK Crvena Zvezda by the narrowest of margins. The striker took his tally to 24 goals in 40 European appearances for Milan as the Italian side gained the upper hand in their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti wanted his team to play possession football but they took the game to the Serbian champions, with fine chances for Clarence Seedorf, Alberto Gilardino, Kaká and Inzaghi being squandered. It came as no surprise when Inzaghi found himself unmarked on the edge of the box following good work by Kaká and slipped the ball past helpless keeper Ivan Randjelović on 21 minutes. The veteran had opportunities to add to his tally as he caused havoc in the visitors' defence after the break.
A mistake by Alessandro Costacurta had given Blagoy Georgiev a clear opening with less than two minutes played, but Milan keeper Dida got down well to save. A tame header from Nikola Žigić into the arms of Dida was the only other real threat from Crvena Zvezda, with the Rossoneri limiting Dejan Milovanović to a long-range shot following clever play on the edge of the box. At the other end, Randjelović kept the Belgrade club in contention with two fantastic stops within two minutes of the restart, the first from a Gilardino header and then from Seedorf's drive from distance. Milan eventually sat back and played the keep-ball that Ancelotti desired. Crvena Zvezda will have to show more enterprise in the second leg on 22 August.