AC Milan beats Anderlecht 3-1, advances in CL
BRUSSELS (AP) -Stephan El Shaarawy and Philippe Mexes produced flashes of brilliance to lead AC Milan to a 3-1 victory over Anderlecht and a place in the next round of the Champions League on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old El Shaarawy won space in the penalty area in the 47th minute and deftly controlled a long cross with his left foot to set up right-footed curling shot that gave goalkeeper Silvio Proto no chance.
Mexes did even better in the 71st. Receiving a free kick on the edge of the box with his back to goal, his spectacular overhead bicycle kick dipped over Proto's head and into the far corner from 20 meters out.
Although Milan had dominated the first half, El Shaarawy's moment of class added to the momentum and the visitors grew in confidence after Anderlecht defender Bram Nuytinck was sent off for a foul on Alexandre Pato in the 70th minute.
The consolation goal of Tom De Sutter in the 77th had little impact.
El Shaarawy added an assist to his goal when he set up Pato for a third in injury time.
With one game remaining, Malaga has 11 points, three more than Milan. Anderlecht and Zenit St. Petersburg both have four points and are competing for a Europa League berth.
The victory was the result Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri craved with his team struggling in the first half of the season, having made its worst Serie A start in 71 years.
In Brussels, though, it showed off a newfound confidence - and an emerging star in El Shaarawy. The Italy international's fine strike brought up his 15th goal of the season in all competitions.
Since Milan is trailing in 12th position in Serie A, 17 points behind defending champion Juventus, the Champions League looks like the only competition in which the club can make its mark.
Milan was without captain Massimo Ambrosini, who had not recovered from the flu.
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