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Rediff.com  » Sports » Late goals send Milan through in UEFA Cup

Late goals send Milan through in UEFA Cup

November 28, 2008 08:22 IST

Late goals from Ronaldinho and Filippo Inzaghi salvaged a 2-2 draw for AC Milan against English FA Cup winners Portsmouth and took the seven times European champions into the last 32 of the UEFA Cup on Thursday.

Milan were trailing 2-0 until Brazilian Ronaldinho curled in a superb freekick after 84 minutes and then Inzaghi, who had hit the woodwork three times, showed fine control to slot home the equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time.

Carlo Ancelotti's side top Group E with seven points from three matches and are guaranteed a place in the knockout phase with a game to spare.

Former winners CSKA Moscow, Manchester City and Ligue 1 strugglers St Etienne joined Milan as the first four teams to qualify for the last 32.

Portsmouth, roared on by the majority of a fervent 20,000 crowd shoehorned into the south coast club's Fratton Park home, had stunned Milan with second-half goals from Younes Kaboul and Nwankwo Kanu.

Kaboul powerfully headed home Glenn Johnson's inviting cross after 62 minutes and 11 minutes later Nigeria striker Kanu, whose FA Cup final winner in May secured Portsmouth's place in Europe, hooked in another Johnson cross from close range.

Ancelotti sent on Ronaldinho and Pato for Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko and it was the former who got Milan back into the game with an unstoppable swirling freekick past David James.

With time running out, a hopeful ball into the danger area was taken down with aplomb by Inzaghi who then found the bottom corner of the net.

"They have some fantastic players... if you switch off, even for a minute, they punish you," Portsmouth manager Tony Adams told Channel Five television.

CSKA, the 2005 champions, made it three wins from three in Group H after a 2-1 home success over Poland's Lech Poznan.

First-half goals by Alan Dzagoyev and Russian international Yuri Zhirkov put CSKA, runners-up to unfashionable Rubin Kazan in the Russian championship that ended this month, in control before Semir Stilic pulled one back after the break.

Manchester City's 2-0 win in Gelsenkirchen over Schalke 04 ensures the Premier League team will be one of the three sides to qualify from Group A after a 2-2 draw between Paris St Germain and Racing Santander in the other game in the group.

Making light of injured Brazilian striker Robinho's absence, City's Zimbabwe forward Benjani Mwaruwari tapped in at the far post in the 32nd minute after Daniel Sturridge's low drive across goal had cut through a host of defenders.

Ireland midfielder Stephen Ireland doubled City's advantage midway through the second half when he poked in Benjani's deflected flick.

St Etienne got the point they needed to qualify in a 1-1 draw at Club Bruges in Group G. The French side sacked coach Laurent Roussey earlier this month and prop up Ligue 1.

Turkish champions Galatasaray wasted the chance to guarantee their passage from Group B after Brazilian midfielder Edmar's goal nine minutes from time gave Ukraine's Metalist Kharkiv a late win at the Ali Sami Yen stadium.

The 2000 UEFA Cup winners, who have six points from three matches, should still go through. Only once since the group stage format was introduced in 2004/05 has six points not been enough to qualify, with Rangers missing out that season.

In the same group, Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus routed visitors Benfica 5-1 with Brazilian under-21 striker Diogo grabbing two goals.

Twice UEFA Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur are poised to qualify after a second win from three games in Group D.

Spurs continued their resurgence under manager Harry Redknapp, making it seven victories from nine matches in all competitions since he took charge, with a 1-0 win at NEC Nijmegen.

Jamie O'Hara got the only goal from close range after 14 minutes, following up after Fraizer Campbell struck the bar.

The top three in each of the eight groups progress to the knockout phase and will be joined in the last 32 by the eight clubs who finish third in the Champions League group stage.

The final is in Istanbul on May 20.

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