Hakan Calhanoglu was inspirational and Andre Silva celebrated a hat-trick as Milan crushed Austria Vienna 5-1 away from home.
The Rossoneri won all four games in the preliminary rounds without conceding to reach the group phase of the Europa League, the only major tournament the club is yet to win. Andrea Conti, Ricardo Rodriguez and Fabio Borini were left behind, but Nikola Kalinic got his first start in a new 3-5-2 system. Austria Vienna are now without a home victory in their last six continental attempts.
Calhanoglu was in a free role, able to drift behind the strikers, and he had the first chance after three minutes with his low drive palmed round the base of the near post.
The Turkey international was inspired and broke the deadlock – almost along with the net – with his ferocious strike into the far top corner from a tight angle after a rapid counter-attack.
Calhanoglu was clearly fired up after some poor recent performances and created the second, winning back possession with a tackle on Abdul Kadiri Mohammed to immediately thread through for Andre Silva’s finish and 2-0.
The hosts fought back, Holzhauser’s free kick flicked on by Christoph Monschein to test Gianluigi Donnarumma and the resulting corner deflected off Ignazio Abate to risk an own goal.
However, Calhanoglu provided another inspired assist for Andre Silva to spring the offside trap and complete his brace one-on-one.
Calhanoglu curled one of his trademark free kicks just over, but Austria Vienna lost Heiko Westermann to a knee injury after his tangle with Abate.
The hosts got back into it straight after the restart, Alexandar Borkovic getting in front of Cristian Zapata to nod in at the near post, but the corner itself was contentious, as the ball was outside the quadrant when taken.
Just as Austria Vienna tried to get back into the game, Andre Silva complete his hat-trick. Franck Kessie threaded through the middle, the Portuguese hitman sprung the offside trap again and beat Osman Hadzikic at the near post. He became the first Milan player to score a European hat-trick since Kaka against Anderlecht in 2006.
Suso came off the bench and on to the scoresheet within 60 seconds, as he took a snapshot from distance and the deflection looped it over the helpless goalkeeper for 5-1.
Austria Vienna 1-5 Milan
Calhanoglu 7 (M), Andre Silva 10, 20, 56 (M), Borkovic 47 (A), Suso 63 (M)
Austria Vienna: Hadzikic; Klein, Kadiri, Westermann (Borkovic 42) (Gluhakovic 86), Martschinko; Holzhauser, Serbest, Prokop; Pires, Monschein, Lee (De Paula 73)
Milan: G Donnarumma; Zapata, Bonucci, Romagnoli (Musacchio 73); Abate, Kessie (Bonaventura 62), Calhanoglu, Biglia, Antonelli; Andre Silva, Kalinic (Suso 62)
Ref: Gozubuyuk (NED)