Patrick Cutrone scored a glancing header and earned a penalty converted by Ricardo Rodriguez as Milan conquered Ludogorets 3-0 in Bulgaria.
The Rossoneri showed how seriously they were taking this tournament by fielding a practically full-strength side against the six-times in a row Champions of Bulgaria. Andre Silva stepped in for Patrick Cutrone, with Nikola Kalinic injured and Manuel Locatelli suspended. Ludogorets hadn??™t played a competitive match since December 14 due to the Winter break, plus Erol Dosta, Natanael and Claudiu Keseru sat out bans.
Lazio were eliminated at the hands of Ludogorets in 2013-14 and Lucas Biglia was part of that squad, so knew this was not a fixture to be taken lightly.
Ignazio Abate was booked within four minutes, as the hosts caused a lot of problems down that flank with Virgil Misidjan, while Cutrone saw his effort deflected wide of the near post.
Gianluigi Donnarumma ran a big risk when mistiming his interception on a cross, as Jakub Swierczok just failed to make contact.
Suso curled a free kick over from a tight angle, as did Jack Bonaventura from open play, but Cutrone broke the deadlock right on the stroke of half-time. The young striker got just a glancing touch to his head on Hakan Calhanoglu??™s corner to send it past the goalkeeper.
Abate had already been booked and ran a massive risk when he visibly fouled Sasha in the penalty area, but as the referee was about to point to the spot, Milan were rescued by the offside flag.
The Rossoneri were also grateful to the crossbar, as a Svetoslav Dyakov scorcher rattled the woodwork with Donnarumma beaten.
After weathering that storm, Milan doubled their lead when Cutrone was pushed in the back by Cosmin Moti as he was pulling the trigger. Ricardo Rodriguez had just come off the bench, but showed a cool head to covert the penalty.
It still wasn??™t over, as substitute Fabio Borini scored his second goal in as many games, a bobbling finish taking the goalkeeper by surprise.