AC Milan joined Real Madrid in the Champions League knockout stages despite an unconvincing performance at FC Zurich.
After 20 minutes, the visitors lost Thiago Silva to injury and eight minutes later they conceded to Milan Gajic's wonderful free-kick.
But Alain Rochat was dismissed for a professional foul and Ronaldinho converted from the penalty spot after 63 minutes as the Rossoneri progressed, while nearest rivals Marseille were eliminated by a 3-1 home loss to group winners Real Madrid.
Ronaldinho returned at the Letzigrund stadium, having been a fitness doubt after picking up an injury in last weekend's 3-0 Serie A defeat of Sampdoria. The Brazil playmaker created the first two goals against Samp, demonstrating his supreme talents, and Rossoneri coach Leonardo was desperate to have the former Barcelona player in his team.
Milan entered the contest in second place in Group C, knowing they would qualify for the last 16 if Marseille failed to beat Real Madrid at home. However, the Rossoneri were looking to keep their destiny entirely in their own hands with victory at already-eliminated Zurich.
Alexandre Pato had an early volley from the right side of the penalty area blocked by Zurich goalkeeper Johnny Leoni. Adrian Nikci then shot off target from the edge of the area after ten minutes.
Milan then lost Brazil midfielder Thiago Silva, with Kakha Kaladze coming on in his place. Pato attempted to make light of the setback with a left-foot effort from 18 yards, but it went went.
Alessandro Nesta saved Milan with Nikci in threatening form, before goalkeeper Dida held a right-foot effort from Alexandre Alphonse.
Alphonse tried his luck again soon after, firing over from 18 yards, before the hosts took the lead. Gajic was fouled by Massimo Ambrosini and dusted himself down to take the free-kick. The midfielder took it left-footed and curled the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards after 28 minutes.
Marco Borriello attempted to find an equaliser five minutes later, but his acrobatic overhead kick went over the bar. Zurich responded and Dida was called upon to save a long-range effort from Onyekachi Okonkwo. Nesta then blocked from Gajic as Zurich took a deserved interval lead.
Ronaldinho, who was largely anonymous in the first 45 minutes, attempted to take the game by the scruff of the neck early in the second period. His corner found Ambrosini, but the midfielder could only head over from six yards. Ronaldinho then shot from the edge of the area, forcing Leoni to parry the ball away.
Gajic shot over from 25 yards at the other end and Nikci failed to find the target from 12 yards as Zurich sought a second which would kill off Milan.
But Rochat was shown a straight red for hauling down Borriello in the penalty box, leaving Ronaldinho to find the net with the subsequent spot kick.
Andrea Pirlo found Kaladze with a free-kick, but the defender headed wide from six yards. Ronaldinho shot wide from 20 yards and Mathieu Flamini had an effort blocked, before firing wide with a second attempt from 20 yards but Milan could not find a winner.
Zurich coach Bernard Challandes said his team had salvaged
some pride after 5-2 and 6-1 defeats to Real Madrid and
Olympique Marseille respectively.
"We dreamed of the Champions League, we lived it and we
wanted to finish well," he said. "We can be satisfied with the
AC Milan coach Leonardo was relieved: "We weren't brilliant
today but it was very important to qualify.
"There were a lot of factors at play, things were a bit
complicated, we had a lot of players with physical problems and
it wasn't easy to prepare."