Filippo Inzaghi's record 63rd goal in UEFA club competition ensured AC Milan reached the last 16 of Europe's élite competition as Group D winners, while Celtic FC went through as runners-up despite the defeat.
In the hat
Inzaghi's 70th-minute strike took him a goal clear of Gerd Müller and capped a controlled display by the European champions, who progressed from pole position for the sixth successive season. Celtic, who could have no complaints after being comprehensively outplayed, joined the seven-time tournament winners in the first knockout round thanks to SL Benfica's victory at FC Shaktar Donetsk.
Kaká had been warmly applauded by both sets of supporters when presented with the Ballon d'Or before kick-off, and the visiting fans were cheering again six minutes into the match upon learning that Benfica had taken the lead at Shakhtar in the other Group D game. With a Portuguese success in Ukraine enough to guarantee Celtic's advance alongside Milan, irrespective of the result here, it went a long way towards explaining both teams' cautious start.
One player whose determination stood out was Inzaghi; the 34-year-old was a livewire presence at the tip of Milan's Christmas tree formation, sending a shot too high on the half-hour, then narrowly missing Giuseppe Favalli's low centre. Jiří Jarošík had Celtic's only attempt on goal in the opening 45 minutes, cutting inside his markers before driving straight at Zeljko Kalac. However, the half belonged to the European champions, Kaká having curled an effort narrowly wide from range and Clarence Seedorf – on his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance – blasting over on the stroke of half-time after being played in by Favalli.
With Benfica 2-1 up, the second half began with Celtic supporters in full cry, but they were almost silenced within a minute when Andrea Pirlo fired a long-range free-kick just too high. A kind rebound then fell into the path of Inzaghi but the No9 was forced too wide to be able to direct his shot on the turn on target. Milan were dominant yet were almost caught out by a ball over the top from Stephen McManus. Scott Brown raced on to it but blazed a first-time attempt wide.
Milan swarmed forward in response and carved out a gilt-edged chance for Inzaghi to claim his record. Favalli's delivery was inviting, Inzaghi was unmarked at the far post, and with an open goal at his mercy, the Italian international somehow sent a close-range header back across goal and into the grateful arms of Artur Boruc. It was merely delaying the inevitable, though, and on 70 minutes, Inzaghi's moment came. Kaká won possession in the Celtic half, timed his pass to Cafu to perfection, and the full-back cut the ball back from the byline for the striker to turn in from six metres.
Celtic's only riposte came in the form of another Brown effort, which required Kalac to make another stop at his near post, but Boruc was the busier of the goalkeepers in the closing minutes, saving from Cristian Brocchi's fierce strike and Inzaghi's follow-up. Not that it mattered in the final reckoning.