Anderlecht vs. AC Milan: Final score 1-3, Mexes wonder goal helps Milan advance

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

AC Milan were terrible in the first half but dominated the second half as they secured their place in the next round of the Champions League

Milan booked their place in the Round of 16 with a 3-1 defeat of Anderlecht. The Italians were horrible in the first half, but a goal two minutes after the second half whistle and a red card against Bram Nuytinck were too much for the Belgians to overcome.

Anderlecht had a great chance in the 13th minute after Dieudonné Mbokani found Milan Jovanovic in space to the left on a counter attack. Jovanovic settled the pass with a nice first touch and then put a frustratingly pedestrian shot on goal that was easily dealt with by Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.

Just a minute later Dennis Praet got off a shot from outside the box that had Abbiati beat, but the ball went just wide of the post.

Mbokani was a terror for the Milan defense, including a moment that looked like a sure goal as the ball was crossed towards an open Mbokani at the far post, but Kevin Constant made a fabulous recovery, clearing the ball away at the last second.

As for Milan, their attack looked listless. Listless might not be the right word, how about just plain awful. Milan didn't even generate a shot in the first half and they were caught offside four times. Fortunately for the Italians, their defense played well in the first half and kept Anderlecht from scoring.

So of course, Milan scored on their first shot of the game two minutes in to the second half.

Stephan El Shaarawy deftly brought down the ball on the left side of the box and promptly hammered a shot past Silvio Proto in to the top left corner. Proto was understandably displeased with his defense, including Guillaume Gillet who stood like a deer in the headlights as El Shaarawy brought the ball down and went around him for the shot.

Things went horribly wrong for Anderlecht in the 70th minute when Bram Nuytinck tripped up Pato on a break. The referee called the foul, awarding the free kick, and then showed Nuytinck a red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity. It should be noted that the break was started by a no-call on what looked like a foul by Milan and Pato appeared offside on the play as well.

On the ensuring set piece, Philippe Mexes received the free kick just outside the box on the right side and beat GK with a beautifully executed looping bicycle kick. Be sure to check out video of this one, people are going to be talking about it.

To Anderlecht's credit they fought back despite being a man down. Oleksandr Yakovenko headed down a ball in the box in the 78th minute to Tom De Sutter who wasted no time beating Arriata to pull the Belgian side back within a goal at 2-1.

Milan finished off the match just in to stoppage time when El Shaarawy drew Proto well off his line before finding a trailing Pato in the middle of the box for an easy tap-in.

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