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Lille look to follow Milan through

Published: Friday 24 November 2006, 1.03CET
With AC Milan confirmed as the winners of Group H, the main focus in their final game is whether LOSC Lille Métropole can qualify alongside them.

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Published: Friday 24 November 2006, 1.03CET

Lille look to follow Milan through

With AC Milan confirmed as the winners of Group H, the main focus in their final game is whether LOSC Lille Métropole can qualify alongside them.

AC Milan were confirmed as winners of Group H despite losing their unbeaten record against AEK Athens FC two weeks ago so the main focus in this game is whether LOSC Lille Métropole can qualify alongside them - to do so they have to better AEK's result at RSC Anderlecht. Lille have six points, one behind the in-form Greek outfit, but if the teams finish level the French side will progress thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

• Yet it is also possible for Claude Puel's side to miss out on qualification for the UEFA Cup as well and finish in last place. If they lose and Anderlecht beat AEK then that would put the Belgian champions equal on six points with Lille but in third position on head-to-head.

• Milan's defeat in Athens was a surprise because before Matchday 4 AEK had gone 21 games in the competition without sampling victory. But the 1-0 win against Lille transformed confidence and they then defeated their Italian visitors by the same scoreline, Júlio César's 32nd-minute free-kick hoisting AEK up into second place. It inflicted the Rossoneri's first defeat in the section and their first away from home in the competition in seven games.

Man on a mission
• Meanwhile Lille's hopes were experiencing a downward turn as they were held 2-2 at the Stade Félix-Bollaert by Anderlecht. Peter Odemwingie put the home team ahead but Mbo Mpenza was a man on a mission for the visitors and having equalised that goal he struck again at the start of the second half after Nicolas Fauvergue had restored Lille's lead.

• In the Matchday 2 fixture between the teams a combination of spirited teamwork and Milan's wayward finishing enabled Lille to claim an impressive 0-0 draw against the six-time European champions. Some believed Lille's porous defence would provide rich pickings for their opponents but ultimately they had as many good chances as the visitors to take victory.

• It was the first time the teams had met. Milan traditionally have the upper hand against French opponents at home - winning seven and drawing two of the nine games which began with the narrow UEFA Cup first-round defeat of AJ Auxerre in 1985.

Recent semi-final
• Last season, Carlo Ancelotti's team drew 0-0 against Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade Gerland before winning the home leg 3-1 to set up a UEFA Champions League semi-final with eventual winners FC Barcelona. One notable Milan defeat by French opposition was the 1-0 loss to Olympique de Marseille in the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League final, a game which featured current stars Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta.

• Lille have faced only two other Italian teams in UEFA competition and in each case experienced the winning feeling away from home. In the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round they won 2-0 at Parma FC, a result which meant they qualified for the group stage for the first time. After the group campaign they then went into the UEFA Cup where in the third round they beat ACF Fiorentina 1-0 in Tuscany and 2-0 at home.

Last updated: 28/11/06 17.41CET