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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 29 September 2020
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Kaka watches on as five-star Milan put domestic troubles behind them to progress in Europe

Vincenzo Montella’s side are 7th in Serie A and 16 points behind leaders Napoli but were excellent tonight.

AC MILAN PUT their domestic struggles to one side as they clinched a place in the last 32 of the Europa League with a 5-1 victory over Austria Wien on Thursday.

The Serie A side eased the pressure on manager Vincenzo Montella with a repeat of the 5-1 triumph in the reverse fixture back in September.

Andre Silva scored a hat-trick on that occasion and the striker netted two more on home turf, while fellow forward Patrick Cutrone also found the net twice in a comfortable victory.

Ricardo Rodriguez scored the home side’s first of the night after Wien had taken a shock lead, Christoph Monschein breaching Milan’s flimsy offside trap to break the deadlock midway through the opening half.

However, with the legendary Kaka watching on from the stands, Milan ended a four-game goal drought in front of their own fans in emphatic fashion, in the process wrapping up top spot in Group D with a game to spare.

Perhaps still smarting from a 2-1 loss to Napoli at the weekend, Montella’s side started sluggishly before the shock of conceding lifted them out of their early slumber.

Wien capitalised in the 21st minute, Monschein running clear to round goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and score from a tight angle. Despite Leonardo Bonucci’s desperate slide, the ball squeezed between the centre-back’s legs and trickled over the line.

The advantage, however, lasted just six minutes. An unmarked Rodriguez converted Fabio Borini’s deflected right-wing cross at the back post to bring Milan level and end their barren spell on home turf.

The Swiss defender was also involved in his side’s second, as his weak free-kick rolled perfectly into the path of Andre Silva, who capitalised on the unexpected opportunity by slamming home a low shot.

Cutrone joined his strike-partner on the scoresheet before half time, nodding in Borini’s cut-back cross as goalkeeper Patrick Pentz was caught horribly out of position.

Bonucci failed to provide the final touch in the right net shortly after the interval, volleying over from a corner, but Silva put the game out of Wien’s reach with his second of the night in the 70th minute.

The Portugal international took his tally in the group stages to six in five matches, though his weak shot on the turn only reached the net due to Pentz’s right foot getting stuck in the turf as he attempted to make what seemed a routine save.

Pentz did prevent Silva from securing another European treble against Wien, diving to turn aside a stinging drive, but Cutrone still added a fifth in injury time, the teenager waltzing around the beleaguered goalkeeper to complete his double and duplicate the result from Vienna.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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