AC Milan 1 Ludogorets 0 (4-0 agg): Borini strike secures victory at San Siro
AC Milan eased into the last 16 of the Europa League with a 1-0 home win over Ludogorets, securing a 4-0 aggregate triumph over the Bulgarian champions.
Fabio Borini scored the only goal of the game as the Rossoneri remain in the hunt to lift the only major European trophy that has eluded them in their illustrious history.
Borini converted Patrick Cutrone's cross in the first half to secure the Italian side - who are still yet to taste defeat in 2018 - a fourth successive win in all competitions.
Yet the scorer was one of the few fringe players who grabbed the opportunity to impress coach Gennaro Gattuso, who rotated his squad ahead of Sunday's pivotal Serie A clash with Roma.
After an impressive 3-0 result on the road a week ago, a much-changed Milan coasted through the return fixture at the San Siro to book their place in Friday's draw.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) February 22, 2018
If Ludogorets harboured any genuine hope of producing a stunning European comeback, they were extinguished 21 minutes into the second leg when Borini extended Milan's overall lead.
Having rounded out the scoring with his side's third goal in Razgrad a week ago, the forward timed his run to the back post perfectly to slam home Cutrone's low centre from the left and break the deadlock in the return fixture.
Andre Silva – one of those drafted into the team as Gattuso shuffled his pack – had earlier tested visiting goalkeeper Jorge Broun from 20 yards out, yet it was far from one-way traffic.
Perhaps understandably sleepy in the first leg, considering their domestic league was still in winter hibernation at the time, Ludogorets looked far sharper playing in the home of their illustrious opponents.
Their best chance during a competitive first half fell to Marcelinho, who was unable to steer a half-volley from right-back Cicinho's looping cross on target.
Ludogorets continued to pose problems after the break, Milan goalkeeper Antonio Donnarumma - filling in for rested younger brother Gianluigi - reacting quickly to turn away a crisp volley from Jakub Swierczok.
Still, with the tie wrapped up, Gattuso withdrew Franck Kessie and Cutrone before the hour, allowing the pair to save energy ahead of the trip to the Stadio Olimpico, as well as the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final against Lazio at the same venue next Wednesday.
Natanael wastefully fired wide from a tight angle on the left side of the penalty area as Ludogorets failed to even grab a consolation goal in the closing minutes of a largely forgettable game.