AC Milan did not manage to pull out any heroics in front of a packed out San Siro as they were beaten 2-1 by a mostly second string Liverpool side.
Everything seemed to be going so well when Fikayo Tomori’s close range finish from a corner gave the Rossoneri the lead and as it stood at that moment, Milan were going through as second in the group. However, the lead did not last long as Mo Salah tucked in a rebound to make it 1-1.
It was a really disappointing performance overall from the Diavolo who never showed the intensity, application or creativity to try and take control of the game, and in truth Divock Origi’s header gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a deserved lead.
Atletico Madrid’s 3-1 victory against Porto in Portugal meant it is Diego Simeone’s men who went through almost out of nowhere given they were bottom heading into this final round.
Milan head coach Stefano Pioli made five changes to the team that beat Salernitana as Pierre Kalulu, Sandro Tonali, Junior Messias, Rade Krunic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all came into the side.
The visiting side had the first shot of the game less than four minutes in as right-back Neco Williams let fly from 20 yards out, but sent a weak effort into Mike Maignan’s arms.
Milan first called Alisson into action through a Fikayo Tomori after a free-kick was floated into the box, resulting in an early save. A few minutes late Romagnoli went down after beating Origi to a pass but getting clattered half a second later. The captain looked winded, but continued.
There was a period of pressure for the away side just before the 20 minute mark with several crosses coming in as they found joy down the flanks, the last of which resulted in a corner that Konate headed wide.
It looked as if Ibrahimovic might have squandered a big chance to give Milan the lead when he hesitated on a shot and had to settle for a corner, but the Rossoneri opened the scoring from the resulting set piece. Alisson did well to keep out a near-post flick from Romagnoli but Tomori was on hand to fire in from close range.
Maignan was called into action a couple of minutes after the goal as Origi showed great close control to generate some space but the Belgian fired straight at the Frenchman.
Milan’s advantage was not to last long as Salah equalised for the away side 10 minutes before the break. Oxlade-Chamberlain found some space to let off a shot that was parried into the path of the Egyptian, who fired into the roof of the net with a first time side foot finish.
The last chance of the first 45 minutes fell to the dynamic Origi who decided to have a go from distance but did not trouble Maignan as it sailed way over the bar, bringing to an end a first half that was certainly edged by the away side.
The first controversial incident of the second half came five minutes in as Kessie went down under a challenge from Tsimikas after a quick free-kick routine and appealed for a penalty, but it was not given and the replay showed it to be a tight call.
Five minutes after that, Liverpool took the lead through Origi. A giveaway from Tomori saw Mane fire at goal and his shot was parried by the hand of Maignan yet the rebound fell straight onto the head of the Belgian who finished smartly.
Just before the hour mark, a double change came from Milan as Pioli opted to introduced Alexis Saelemaekers and Ismael Bennacer in place of Brahim Diaz and Tonali.
Krunic had a decent opportunity to at least hit the target after Messias found him unmarked just outside the edge of the box, yet the Bosnian couldn’t keep his effort down and whipped it over.
Origi missed a big chance to double his tally for the night with just over 20 minutes left on the clock as a cross from the right flank found him between Romagnoli and Tomori, though he headed wide of the near post.
A free-kick from Ibrahimovic 30 yards out that hit the wall and a trademark acrobatic attempt from the Swede – each coming inside the last 10 minutes – showed how desperate things were getting for the home side.
The biggest chance came with five minutes left on the clock as Kessie got put through on goal via a Bakayoko pass but Alisson did not commit and the Ivorian put it straight at him when slotting it low was the better option.
Kessie again got put in behind and this time got tackled magnificently right as he was about to pull the trigger, which was just about the most fitting way the Rossoneri’s group stage campaign could come to an end.