AC Milan lifted themselves clear at the Group D summit as three second-half goals earned a flattering 3-0 victory at FC Shakhtar Donetsk, on a night when Filippo Inzaghi equalled Gerd Müller's record of 62 UEFA club competition goals.
Scoreless at half-time, the UEFA Champions League holders made their class tell after the restart, and it was substitute Inzaghi who did much of the damage. Introduced on 63 minutes, he took just three minutes to find the breakthrough, thrashing the ball into the corner of the net after being released by Andrea Pirlo. Kaká added a second soon after, before Inzaghi sealed the win in added time.
The crowd had observed an impeccable minute's silence in honour of Milan legend Nils Liedholm who died on Monday at the age of 85. In freezing temperatures in Donetsk it was heart-warming stuff and both teams began with purpose. Serginho tested Andriy Pyatov with a long-range effort before the hosts could pose a threat themselves. But having warned his players before kick-off about the need to improve their defending at set-pieces, Mircea Lucescu's side then went close twice themselves from dead-ball situations.
Răzvan Raţ fizzed a free-kick narrowly wide from nearly 30 metres on eight minutes, and when Milan committed a foul nearer the touchline soon after it was Jadson who took charge. The forward delivered a pinpoint cross that Dmytro Chygrynskiy, in space, contrived to direct straight into the arms of Dida. Milan were lacking their usual creativity but a simple long ball almost proved deadly – Alberto Gilardino collected possession inside the box but had his shot well-blocked.
Gilardino threatened again midway through the half, Serginho's cross just evading him, yet gradually Shakhtar came into their own as memories of their 4-1 defeat in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago faded. Milan left-back Serginho was struggling to cope with the presence of Darijo Srna and Ilsinho and the latter released Cristiano Lucarelli, whose attempt was blocked by Alessandro Nesta. Srna forced Dida to tip his screaming goal-bound effort to safety. The visitors ended the half on top, though, and if Shakhtar briefly redressed the balance soon after the restart when Fernandinho squeezed a shot just the wrong side of the upright, Milan began to show their quality.
Massimo Ambrosini gave significant warning when he hit the post following Pirlo's free-kick on 56 minutes, yet Shakhtar did not heed it and were soon punished when Inzaghi pounced. Forced into action, Lucescu's men went close as Brandão tested Dida with a header, but on 72 minutes Kaká made theirs an almost impossible task as he fired in after being teed up by Inzaghi. With Ukraine's prime minister Viktor Yanukovich in the crowd, Shakhtar refused to wilt and Jadson, Srna and substitute Olexandr Gladkiy all threatened, yet Inzaghi completed their misery in the third minute of added time – receiving the ball from Kaká and driving in as Milan went three points clear in Group D.