AC Milan eased into the group stages of the Europa League with a comfortable 1-0 away win over Shkendija in Macedonia as Patrick Cutrone took centre stage.
He grabbed the only goal of the game on a night in which Milan’s first leg work ensured they were never in threat as they ultimately progressed with a 7-0 aggregate win.
Vincenzo Montella rung in the changes for the trip, given his side’s 6-0 advantage, with Cristian Zapata, Leonardo Bonucci, Luca Antonelli and Andre Silva the only survivors from that success.
In addition, the former Fiorentina boss also experimented with a new 3-5-2 system which saw Silva partnered by Cutrone in attack and it was the youngster who made the most of his chance to give Milan a 1-0 half-time lead.
Fresh from his goal and impressive performance against Crotone on the opening weekend of the Serie A season, he opened the scoring on 13 minutes with a well-taken strike.
Cutrone’s goal pic.twitter.com/E8Uo2eH0GS
— #FreeLocatelli (@semo33) August 24, 2017
Timing his run to perfection, he latched on to Manuel Locatelli’s ball over the top before cutting inside his defender and firing into the far corner of the net.
Silva threatened adding a second from range with a powerful strike which was tipped to safety as the Rossoneri carried a solitary goal lead into the break at half-time.
Twice on separate occasions, the Diavolo had Marco Storari to thank for keeping both their clean sheet and lead in attack with splendid saves to deny the home support the goal they craved, albeit which never arrived.
The Diavolo will find out their group stage opponents on Friday afternoon at 1pm CEST as they continue on the road to Lyon.