Filippo Inzaghi broke the scoring record in Europe's top club competition as AC Milan beat Celtic 1-0, although defeat was sweetened for the Scottish side by their qualification for the UEFA Champions League knockout phase on Tuesday.
It was the perfect scenario for all involved as Milan won, topped the group, Inzaghi made history in beating Gerd Muller's mark with his 63rd strike, and Celtic played gamely while sneaking through to the second round for the second year in a row. That was thanks to Shakhtar Donetsk's 2-1 win over Benfica in the other Group D match.
At times the match resembled a training ground run-out, but it finally sparked into life in the second period, culminating with Inzaghi's winning strike 20 minutes from time. And it was a flowing move that set it up, Kaka breaking down the right and feeding the overlapping Cafu, who crossed for Inzaghi to score a tap-in from inside the six-yard box.
Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti had vowed on Monday to play his "strongest possible side", but that proved to be pie in the sky as he changed his entire back five. Even so, there were six FIFA World Cup™ winners in his starting XI.
Clarence Seedorf came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, but he blazed his shot high and wide when well placed on the stroke of half-time.
Within three minutes of the restart, the reigning European champions had twice come closer to scoring than in the entire first 45 minutes. Andrea Pirlo hit a wicked, swerving free-kick just inches past the post and then Inzaghi latched on to a ricochet from a Kaka shot, only to be forced wide by Stephen McManus before screwing his shot past the upright.
Up the other end Scott Brown broke clear and latched on to a long punt forward, but his volleyed finish from inside the area failed to find the target. Gary Caldwell was then responsible for keeping the scores goalless on 58 minutes, flinging his body in the way of a fierce Seedorf shot before Inzaghi missed a glaring chance.
A minute later, Giuseppe Favalli crossed past Artur Boruc in the Celtic goal for Inzaghi, five yards out at the back post with an open goal to aim at. Surprisingly, he managed to direct his header into Boruc's arms, even though the keeper was actually behind him. That would be quickly forgotten, though, as the Italian turned from villain to hero.
Milan dominated the closing stages with Boruc making a stunning double save from Cristian Brocchi and Inzaghi nine minutes from time. Brown did force a late save from Australian goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac but Celtic never really looked like scoring.
Kaka should have added an injury time second but substitute Evander Sno blocked his effort. For Celtic, it was their 15th defeat in 16 Champions League group stage away matches - a unfavourable statistic but one that no-one cared about at the final whistle.