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Danny delivers as Zenit win at Milan

AC Milan 0-1 FC Zenit St Petersburg
The Russian champions rubber-stamped their ticket for the UEFA Europa League courtesy of Danny's goal ten minutes before the interval.

Danny delivers as Zenit win at Milan
Danny delivers as Zenit win at Milan ©UEFA.com

A first-half goal from Danny proved decisive as FC Zenit St Petersburg overcame AC Milan in Group C and qualified for the UEFA Europa League.

With the hosts already assured of second spot in the section behind Málaga CF, Massimiliano Allegri opted to leave the in-form Stephan El Shaarawy on the bench. And with the Rossoneri somewhat blunted in attack as a consequence, Zenit took control and landed the telling blow ten minutes before the break when captain Danny stroked in a shot from inside the penalty area.

Fancied at the start of the group stage, Zenit at least take their leave of the UEFA Champions League on a high courtesy of only their second victory in 12 away matches in Europe's premier club competition.   

Milan enjoyed most of the possession in the early exchanges without creating an opportunity of note. The Russian champions had the first significant attempt after 18 minutes when Sergei Semak found space on the right before cutting inside and firing just over the crossbar. Cristián Zapata then intervened to stop Hulk's run towards goal.

Back came Milan, however, and Nicolas Lombaerts deflected over a close-range effort by Giampaolo Pazzini following Mattia De Sciglio's low ball from the right. From the ensuing corner, Zapata missed the target with a right-foot volley.

With 35 minutes on the clock, though, Luciano Spalletti's team took the lead, goalscorer Danny launching the move with an attempted pass to Semak inside the box. When the ball rebounded kindly into his path, the Portuguese international did well to wrap his right foot around the ball and direct a precise low shot across Christian Abbiati.

Vyacheslav Malafeev punched away a powerful shot from Mathieu Flamini at the other end as Milan sought an instant riposte, and the Zenit keeper made a more difficult save early in the second period when he blocked Pazzini's close-range strike with his feet.

Allegri reinforced his attack, sending on Robinho and El Shaarawy for left-back Djamel Mesbah and midfielder Flamini respectively, changes which almost paid dividends. The Brazil forward came close with a curling effort that whistled past Malafeev's left-hand post, while El Shaarawy missed the target from a promising position with five minutes left. It was not, however, Milan's night.

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