Milan AC 0-1 Roda JC (Agg: 1-1 - Milan won 3-2 on penalties)
Milan AC scraped into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, winning on penalties against Dutch side Roda JC after a 1-0 defeat on the night had left the sides tied 1-1 on aggregate.
The Italians' 3-2 penalty shoot-out win came after a battling display from the opposition, who were forced to play all of extra time with ten men. Roda went ahead in the 70th minute with a volleyed goal from Marc Luijpers. Four minutes from time they had defender Regillio Vrede sent off but the determined Dutch side still clung on for penalties.
Milan now face Israel's Hapoel Tel-Aviv, who knocked out another Italian side Parma AC earlier on Thursday evening. The Rossoneri created a host of chances in the second half and extra time to win the game without the need for penalties but, with top scorer Andriy Shevchenko rested, they lacked the clinical touch in front of goal.
Shevchenko in the stands
With Shevchenko sitting in the stands it was clear that Milan had at least half an eye on Sunday's derby with Internazionale FC and were hoping for a comfortable passage against the Dutch side. Roda's lively striker Bernard Tchoutang offered an early warning that the Kerkrade outfit had other ideas with a jinking run into the box before Martin Laursen blocked his shot with a well-timed challenge.
Milan's only efforts in the first half were a harmless header from Laursen and shots from Kakha Kaladze and Javi Moreno which flew wide. The Italian side made a livelier start to the second half with Portuguese playmaker Rui Costa forcing Roda goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac into a full-stretch save with a curling free-kick.
Moreno saw a glancing header from a José Chamot cross flash just wide of the post as Carlo Ancelotti's side looked for the goal that would ease their growing nerves. But Roda stunned the Italians in the 70th minute as Garba Lawal picked out an unmarked Luijpers at the back-post and the defender volleyed past Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.
Wave of attacks
That prompted a wave of Milan attacks with substitute Marco Simone, on for Costa in the 70th minute, forcing a fine save out of Kalac with a thundering free-kick. After Vrede was sent off for a second bookable offence, Milan had a great chance for the deciding goal but Kaladze screwed wide from just ten metres out.
It was one-way traffic in extra time as Kaladze and Simone each went close twice and José Mari wasted a golden chance blasting over from point-blank range. The game went to penalties and early on both keepers made two fine diving saves - Kalac denying Milan's José Mari and Kaladze while Abbiati pushed away Tom Soetaer's and Luijper's kicks. With the score 2-2, however, Eric van der Luer blasted his penalty over the bar and Romanian Cosmin Contra converted Milan's final kick to bring a mixture of joy and relief to the Italians.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said after the game: "We have suffered a lot. I hope that this sufferance will be useful in Sunday's game against Inter. We had a lot of chances during extra time but we were not able to translate that into goals."
Roda coach George Leekens was understandably disappointed. "We used the best players for penalties, but we weren't lucky," he said. "From a tactical point of view at the start of the match we had three defenders, but in reality there were just two [who performed]. We have to forget this match and go home."