Milan only need to avoid defeat against Salzburg next week to reach the last 16 of the Champions League after hammering Dinamo Zagreb.
Matteo Gabbia scored his first goal for Milan as they thrashed Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 to move just a point away from the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
Chelsea’s win in Salzburg on Tuesday gave Stefano Pioli’s side a shot at second place in Group E and they grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Gabbia put them in front with a first-half header and they ran away with it in the second half, Rafael Leao doubling their lead when Olivier Giroud added a third from the penalty spot.
A bizarre own goal from Roberto Ljubičić summed up Dinamo’s evening as their hopes of qualification were emphatically ended, while Milan must avoid defeat in their crucial final group game against Salzburg next week to progress.
Simon Kjaer and Charles De Ketelaere had shots on goal blocked in Milan’s clear opening before Gabbia came to the rescue by nodding Mislav Orsic’s header into the ring.
Dominik Livakovic palmed away Giroud’s header and Josip Misic did brilliantly to keep out Ante Rebic’s shot that looked to be heading for the back of the net, but the Serie A champions were in front after 39 minutes.
The opening goal came from an unlikely source as Gabbia punished slack defending by diving to head home Sandro Tonali’s whipped free-kick from close range.
Leao gave Milan some breathing room five minutes into the second half, showing great pace to drive into the penalty area from the left with too much ease, taking advantage of poor defending with a clinical right-footed finish.
Milan were cruising and had a third just before the hour when Ljubičić tipped Tonali and Giroud’s spot-kick found the top left corner.
Things got worse for Ljubicic when Giroud failed to make contact with the livewire of Leao’s cutback and the ball hit the midfielder on the shoulder before flying into the back of his own net.
What does it mean? Milan’s fate in their own hands
Defeats against Chelsea put Milan in real danger of being relegated, but their fate is now in their own hands after a ruthless demolition of Dinamo.
Chelsea’s 2-1 win in Salzburg secured the Premier League club victory in the group, so next week’s clash between Pioli’s men and the Austrian side at the San Siro will decide who finishes second.
Dinamo bowed out with a whimper, losing all six of their European games against Milan.