AC Milan 1-2 Liverpool: Hosts out as Reds finish off perfect group stage
Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi scored in a 2-1 victory over AC Milan as Liverpool became the first English team to win all six Champions League group games in a single season.
Although they fell behind to a Fikayo Tomori strike, the Reds rallied to round off a perfect group-stage campaign.
And this result meant Milan not only failed to join their opponents in the next round but also missed out on a Europa League spot.
Liverpool saw out a historic win – their first at San Siro against Milan – with little trouble.
Despite knowing the stakes, Milan wasted much of the first half-hour showing too much respect to a Liverpool team whose many changes were evident in their disjointed play.
But when the first real chance of the game finally came, it went to the hosts, and they took it to give a raucous home crowd a deserved moment of release.
Tomori is unlikely to have many easier opportunities than a five-yard tap-in that came about when a corner somehow squirmed past three Liverpool defenders.
To their credit, the visitors improved immediately, and they were soon level courtesy of a cool Salah finish after an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain effort had been parried.
Liverpool kept up that new standard following the break, taking the lead for the first time 10 minutes after the restart.
Fresh from scoring a late weekend winner at Wolves that saw him described as a "legend" by manager Jurgen Klopp, Origi was in the right place again to head home after Sadio Mane had been denied.
With his team looking comfortable, Klopp looked to protect his big hitters, with Mane and Salah making way for Naby Keita and Joe Gomez.
But those changes did little to disrupt the visitors' rhythm, or encourage Milan to push for the win that could have saved their European season.
What does it mean? Potential blessing for Milan
Atletico Madrid's win over Porto meant Milan would have failed to progress to the knockout stages even if they had beaten Liverpool here.
With the pursuit of a first Serie A title in 11 years on their minds, the hosts might well consider not qualifying for the Europa League courtesy of defeat a blessing in disguise.
Konate strengthens claim
He has had to be content with backing up Joel Matip for much of the season so far, but Ibrahima Konate showed his credentials as a future starter here.
The Frenchman posted match-high numbers of seven clearances and three interceptions as he cut a dominant figure at the heart of defence.
Milan extend barren run
Defeat here means Milan have now won only one of their last 10 home games in the group stage of the Champions League.
Not since beating Celtic way back in September 2013 have the once-feared Rossoneri tasted San Siro success in this competition.
Key Opta facts
- Salah scored his 20th goal of the season in all competitions for Liverpool, in his 21st appearance. He is the first player to score 20 or more goals in five consecutive campaigns for the Reds since Ian Rush (six between 1981-82 and 1986-87).
- Salah has been involved in 29 goals in all competitions this season (20 goals, 9 assists), more than twice as many as any other Premier League player.
- Origi scored his first goal in 15 Champions League games, since netting the Reds' second in their 2-0 final victory over Tottenham in June 2019.
- Milan have lost back-to-back Champions League home games in which they have scored the first goal for the first time, with the Italian side also doing so against Atletico Madrid in September.
- Milan have finished bottom of their group for just the second time in the Champions League, previously doing so in the 1999-2000 campaign.
- Tomori became only the third English player to score a Champions League goal against an English opponent while playing for a non-English side, after Patrick Roberts for Celtic against Manchester City in 2016 and Jude Bellingham for Borussia Dortmund versus City in 2021.
Liverpool resume their Premier League title push on Saturday when they welcome a familiar face to Anfield in the form of Steven Gerrard and his Aston Villa team.
Milan, meanwhile, turn their attentions to a trip to Udinese, where they know a win will keep them top of Serie A.