Milan 4-0 Salzburg: Giroud double helps put Rossoneri through

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Olivier Giroud scored twice and assisted two others as Milan sealed their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Salzburg at San Siro on Wednesday.

Milan knew a point would be enough to secure their progression and Giroud's early headed finish set them on their way.

Giroud's brilliant assist allowed Rade Krunic to get on the scoresheet shortly after half-time before the former Chelsea striker fired home a loose ball in the box.

Junior Messias added further gloss late on as Milan registered consecutive Champions League wins for the first time since 2011 and eased into the knockout stages at Salzburg's expense.

Theo Hernandez almost put Milan in front inside three minutes but his low effort across goal hit the post and deflected wide.

The hosts took the lead after 14 minutes, Giroud powerfully nodding Sandro Tonali's corner into the back of the net with the help of sloppy Salzburg marking.

Giroud thought he had his second when he tapped home after Salzburg goalkeeper Philipp Kohn fumbled Hernandez's shot into his path, only for the offside flag to curtail his celebrations.

Krunic made it 2-0 just after half-time with an excellent header after Giroud deftly nodded Ante Rebic's delivery back across goal to set him up.

Giroud added another in the 57th minute, smashing home after the ball rebounded kindly to him in the box.

Rafael Leao should have scored a fourth for Milan when he was picked out with a superb Hernandez cross, but his first-time effort came back off the crossbar.

Substitute Messias' curled finish in injury-time was the final dagger to Salzburg's Champions League campaign, though, as Milan cruised through.


What does it mean? Pioli's men cruise into next round

It could have been an anxious 90 minutes for Milan given a defeat would have seen them crash out of the Champions League, but Giroud's early goal calmed any nerves before they ran riot at San Siro.

Milan had 15 attempts on goal to Salzburg's 16, but were much more ruthless than their Austrian opponents with four clinical finishes past a helpless Kohn.

Giroud the key man

Giroud was sublime as he played a vital role in seeing his side into the next round, having a hand in all four goals.

Playing as the lone man up front, Giroud struck twice and added two assists in what was an excellent performance. His delicate header back across goal for Krunic to nod home Milan's second showed Giroud's class, even at the age of 36.

Experience prevails over youth

Maximilian Wober was Salzburg's oldest player in their starting XI, despite being just 24-years-old, and the inexperience showed as Milan handled the pressure better than the visitors.

A win would have seen Salzburg through, but they struggled to get going at a loud San Siro and failed to get on the scoresheet, despite registering 1.48 xG (expected goals), as their Champions League campaign ends with a whimper.

Key Opta Facts

- Milan have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2013-14, having failed to do so last term. Excluding second group stages, they have now progressed from their opening group round in 13 of their last 14 participations in the competition.
- The Rossoneri have won back-to-back Champions League games for the first time since October 2011 under Massimiliano Allegri.
- Aged 36 years and 33 days, Giroud is the oldest player to score a brace in the Champions League for Milan since Filippo Inzaghi against Real Madrid in November 2010 (37y 86d).
- Since Opta started collecting assist data for the Champions League (from 2003-04), Giroud (36y 33d) is the third-oldest player to both score and assist a goal in a match in the competition, after Didier Drogba for Chelsea v Schalke in 2014 (36y 259d) and Edin Dzeko for Inter v Viktoria Plzen this season (36y 180d).

What's next?

Both teams return to domestic action on Saturday, when Milan will host Spezia while Salzburg will travel to Wolfsberg.