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Rossoneri celebrate a knockout night

China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-04 07:45
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Olivier Giroud (front) celebrates scoring AC Milan's first goal with Theo Hernandez during a 4-0 Champions League victory at home to Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg which took the Italian giant into the last 16 on Wednesday. [Photo/Agencies]

AC Milan reached the Champions League knockout stage for the first time in nine years on Wednesday with a 4-0 victory over Red Bull Salzburg, while RB Leipzig also qualified by thrashing Shakhtar Donetsk.

Paris Saint-Germain will be the team that group winners want to avoid in Monday's last-16 draw after missing out on top spot in Group H despite a 2-1 win at Juventus, as Benfica hammered Maccabi Haifa 6-1 to snatch first place on total away goals.

Seven-time European champion Milan knew a point would be enough to send it into the last 16 for the first time since the 2013-14 season after a group-stage exit last term.

"These kinds of nights are what we wish for," Milan coach Stefano Pioli told Sky Sports.

"We wanted to show we improved compared to last season in the Champions League. We're ambitious now, so let's see what happens next."

Pioli's side eased any nerves at the San Siro inside 14 minutes as Olivier Giroud headed home.

The Rossoneri's return to the knockout stage was all but confirmed less than a minute after halftime when Giroud headed across goal for Rade Krunic to nod past Philipp Kohn in the Salzburg goal.

Giroud added his second before the hour mark, allowing the home fans the opportunity to celebrate for the remainder of the match and Junior Messias added further gloss to the scoreline in added time.

Milan qualified from Group E in second place behind Chelsea, who came from behind to beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 at Stamford Bridge with goals from Raheem Sterling and debutant Denis Zakaria.

Leipzig also only needed to avoid defeat to go through against Ukrainian side Shakhtar in Warsaw.

Shakhtar, playing its home matches in Poland due to Russia's conflict with Ukraine, had stunned Leipzig 4-1 in its Group F opener.

But the Bundesliga side was too strong after Christopher Nkunku's early strike left Shakhtar with a mountain to climb.

Andre Silva and Dominik Szoboszlai netted in the second period and Dani Olmo's shot was deflected into his own net by Valeriy Bondar to wrap up a 4-0 win.

"I'm really proud of the team. We didn't start well in this Champions League campaign, but we put in a solid performance today and are really happy to be through," Leipzig forward Emil Forsberg told DAZN.

Holder Real Madrid secured first place in the group by hammering Scottish champion Celtic 5-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Luka Modric and Rodrygo both scored penalties awarded for handball in the opening stages, before Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved Josip Juranovic's spot-kick.

Second-half goals from Marco Asensio, Vinicius Jr and Federico Valverde completed the rout despite Jota's late consolation for Celtic who finished bottom.

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