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UEFA Champions League
February 15, 2012
• 2:45 PM
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: V. Kassai
• Attendance: 64462
K. Boateng 15'
Robinho 38', 49'
Z. Ibrahimović 79'
Commiserations Gunners fanatics and congratulations Milan supporters. I'm leaving you for tonight, but stick around on Goal.com if you want reaction to the Champions League clash.
Did the result go as you had expected? I imagine there will be countless Gunners fans out there distraught with that performance from the players. Milan fans, on the other hand, have every right to be smirking for the rest of the week after that maginificent showing.
That's it, the game has finished AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal. A thrilling display of attacking football from the Serie A table toppers swept decide a poor Gunners team, who were on the back foot for most of the game. Goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng, a brace from Robinho and a penalty strike from Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the north London club to the sword. Arsene Wenger's men hang on the precipice of exiting the Champions League unless they pull off an incredible result at the Emirates Stadium in a couple of weeks time.
90' + 4'
Pato is through on goal but casually whacks a shot straight at Szczesy, who saves upwards before smothering the ball when it returns towards the ground.
90' + 3'
The game is dying out with a whimper as opposed to the bang Wenger might have hoped for. Henry has not had the impact the French coach might have hoped, while Oxlade-Chmaberlain's enthusiasm and pace was not enough to coax a remotely decent performance from his team-mates.
Three minutes of injury time at the San Siro. Three more minutes of misery for Arsene Wenger, his players and the Arsenal fans.
Alexandre Pato has a winding run towards goal but Thomas Vermaelen and Wojciech Szczesny communicate well to get possession back into the visitors' hands.
Milan have taken the foot off the gas and are firmly seated in cruising mode. Because of this Arsenal have seen a few more crosses whipped in and a couple more shots fired goalwards, but it's too late to classify as a comeback of any type.
Oxlade-Chamberlain crosses for Van Persie but the Netherlands international cannot get the ball past the solid rock that is Christian Abbiati. The keeper has been in sterling form tonight and has made a couple of crucial saves and crucial points in the game.
Tomas Rosicky, whose finest moment was two minutes into the game where he sent a half-decent shot wide of goal, nearly hits the corner flag with a wayward shot in front of goal that scuffs embarrassingly right for the Czech international.
Yellow Card Massimo Ambrosini
At the other end Robin van Persie is tussled to the ground by Ambrosini but the Dutchman doesn't get the spot kick he cries for.
Penalty Goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic steps up to take the penalty. The Sweden international hits the ball low and hard to the bottom left corner and it's a goal! 4-0 to AC Milan! Szczesny got a hand to the shot but it was too powerful a shot to stop and the ex-Inter man celebrates joyfully.
Yellow Card Johan Djourou
Penalty to AC Milan! Johan Djourou clumsily tackles Zlatan Ibrahimovic to give away a spot kick to the Italian club.
Robinho tries to angle a header on the near post from a Milan corner on the left. His header sails wide though and it's an Arsenal goal-kick.
Robin van Persie has a shot inside the box, on the righ, but his shot isn't hit quite as sweetly as the Dutch frontman will have liked. Abbiati only has to crouch down to clutch the ball to his chest.
Oxlade-Chamberlain writhes his way into a trap by the corner flag on the right flank. He does get a cross away, when surrounded by three Milan playwers, but his cross is considerably too short for any of his team-mates loitering in the hosts' box.
Goal.com International deputy editor, Carlo Garganese, gives his thoughts on the San Siro clash at this stage: "Thiago Silva has snuffed out Robin van Persie; Van Bommel & Nocerino have bossed the midfield; while Ibrahimovic, Robinho and Boateng have caused problems every time they have touched the ball. Arsenal are lucky to only be 2-0 down, defensively they are all over the place - they are pushing up when they should be holding, going narrow when they should be cutting out Abate and Antonini on the flanks, and generally getting everything wrong tactically. Ibrahimovic in particular is toying with the Arsenal team, with opponents bouncing off him. He created Robinho's goal beautifully, and could have had two more assists for Boateng and Antonini"
Yellow Card Alex Song
Kevin-Prince Boateng, scorer of the sublime first goal for AC Milan, is relieved from the field of play for club captain Massimo Ambrosini. The attacker, unsurprisingly, gets applauded off by the home fans.
How will Oxlade-Chamberlain fit into the formation at the San Siro? Will Wenger throw caution to the wind in desperation as they seek an away goal or two that is needed? Or will the England Under-21 international be playing in an unfamiliar left-back role, with licence to roam in attacks?
Thierry Henry passes left to Robin van Persie, who takes a touch then drives a low shot to the left of Abbiati. The Italian leaps down to pull off a fine save, tipping the ball wide for an Arsenal corner. Improvement among the Gunners' attack, but one swallow does not make a summer!
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger looks to be crouched on the turf at the San Siro, watching on as his side fail to impact on this last 16 Champions League match.
Vermaelen takes a free-kick from 30-yards out but the shot is blocked before bouncing into the hands of Christian Abbiati. Henry had an outside chance of beating the Italian keeper to the bounce but looked to bottle the stretch for the ball.
Yellow Card Philippe Mexes
Robinho beats Gibbs with trickery and physical pace on the right for hosts, but the full-back gets back to his credit and stays on his feet to block the left-footed attempt from less than 10-yards out.
A counter-attack from the resultant corner could easily have ended in Milan going 4-0 ahead, but left-back Luca Antonini's weak shot dribbles well wide to the right of the Arsenal goal.
Ignazio Abate slide tackles Kieran Gibbs to prevent the England left-back from putting a dangerous ball into the box.
Straight away at the other end Kevin-Prince Boateng is nearly through on goa on the right side of the 18-yard box, but the Ghanaian international controlled the pass from Urby Emanuelson poorly and lost the momentum in the attack.
Alex Song can't slide the ball past Thiago Silva for Henry, as the Gunners edge closer to the Milan penalty area.
Arsenal are trying to pass their way back into this clash but so far they have been luckless and not strong enough in possession.
Wojciech Szczesny was helpless as the Brazil international buried the ball in the back of the net. Arsenal's defence, on the other hand, were poor in allowing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to slide the ball into Ronbinho's path. The Gunners look certain of defeat tonight now and it would take a comeback of titanic proportions to get anything from this tie.
Assist Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Robinho scores his second!!! AC Milan 3-0 Arsenal!!! The former Manchester City striker shoots from the edge of the box on his right, powering his effort into the bottom left corner of the net.
Fancy flick with the back of the foot mid-air from Kevin-Prince Boateng but Ibrahimovic is - yep, you guessed it - offside again.
Arsenal get the game back underway.
Just as I wrote that it turns out Thierry Henry is coming on, for Theo Walcott. Excited Gunners fans?
Which substitutes could yet have a say on the game? Thierry Henry might be the name on every man and his dog's lips, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been sparkling form lately and his pace would breathe fresh air into a team that look bereft of ideas.
Who sees Arsenal coming back from this one? The Premier League club still have 11 men on the pitch at least (if we're scraping for positives) and stranger comebacks have happened. Or will Milan smash the visitors for six and run riot at the San Siro?
Well Arsenal were never going to have it all their own way, but Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri will be delighted that his side have performed to such a superior quality. Boateng, Robinho, Ibrahimovic and Nocerino have all looked constant threats on the attack for the home side.
45' + 4'
The half-time whistle sounds and it could not have come any quicker for Arsenal, who have been outplayed and outdone by AC Milan in the first 45 minutes. A stinging strike from Ghana international Kevin-Prince Boateng gave the Serie A side a lead early on, then Ibrahimovic's winding run from the left wing gave Robinho the second goal for the Italian club. The Gunners rarely looked a threat and manager Arsene Wenger will be eager to forget that half ever happened.
45' + 3'
Yellow Card Luca Antonini
45' + 3'
Antonini and Szczesny collide when the Italian is through, but the Milan player comes away from the clash worse off and with a booking for referee Viktor Kassai.
45' + 1'
Ibrahimovic uses his upper body strength brilliantly to keep Djourou from tackling him, before switching the ball across and through the back four for Kevin-Prince Boateng. The former Spurs attacker chooses to shoot instead of square for Robinho to his left, but his shot hits the side netting to the right of goal.
Two minutes injury time has been added.
Well Arsenal look guaranteed to head in at half-time two goals worse off than 45 minutes ago. To make matters worse, Laurent Koscielny has hobbled off for the visitors with an injury - Johan Djourou replaces the French centre-back.
Ibrahimovic nearly scores a third for Milan - the Swedish striker leaping for a diving header in front of goal but not getting full contact, unfortunately for Milan fans.
I wonder if somewhere in the annals of footballing history there is a record number of offsides from an individual player in a match. Maybe Ibrahimovic knows the record, because he looks like a man hell-bent on breaking it.
Assist Zlatan Ibrahimovic
GOAL!!! Milan double their lead and Robinho fires his name onto the scoresheet! Emanuelson puts a pass down the left flank for Ibrahimovic (who was possibly offside) - the former Barcelona and Inter forward sprints for the byline before cutting it back slightly for Robinho, who fires in from close range to make it Milan 2-0 Arsenal.
Vermaelen is not having the finest of games. The Belgian falls over on the ball and Robinho pinches possession, but the pass he attempts for Ibrahimovic - who is free to his left - is blocked by Koscielny, who covers his team-mate well.
AC Milan are camped a wee bit inside the final third, excpet for when Arsenal hoof the ball clear. The ball pings off three or four heads before Nocerino has another crack on goal from the right, this time just inside the box with a side-swiped attempt on goal.
And again the Swedish striker is caught in Arsenal's offside trap. The final line of defence for the north London side change erratically from 3 men to 7, with the emphasis tonight evidently on defence.
The visitors' back four does well to catch Ibrahimovic offside, Bacary Sagna moving up at the last second to secure a free-kick for the Gunners.
Mikel Arteta whips a corner in from the left but Boateng clears the loose ball quickly.
A bit of pressure from Arsenal at the moment but not particularly significant. The San Siro crowd are incredibly subdued for a Champions League tie it must be said, even when Milan are on the attack the supporters hardly make their voices heard.
Van Persie swings a free-kick in towards the left post from 35-yards or so out, but the attack evaporates to nothing once Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati had the ball in his hands from Laurent Koscielny's weak header.
Thomas Vermaelen normally looks like a textbook centre-back, ever-confident in his defensive duties. But just now he looked more like a mediocre youth player thrust into a position he has no understanding of in front of a stadium with a 60,000 capacity. The Belgian defender daudled when the ball came to him much deeper than the other Arsenal defenders, and nearly let Ibrahimovic through one-on-one with the keeper if a soft foul on him had not been given.
Antonio Nocerino calmly makes himself some space on the edge of the box before putting his laces through, but his shot skims narrowly over the crossbar. The Premier League side, who began fairly brightly, are hanging in there at the moment and need some momentum to be injected from somewhere to have any hope of retaliation.
Arsenal look a little lost for words in the aftermath of that stunning strike. Robin van Persie wiggles through inside the Milan box on the left but his attempted pass from the byline is blocked by a sliding defender, and the hosts have the ball back.
Assist Antonio Nocerino
Goal Kevin-Prince Boateng
AC Milan go 1-0 up! Kevin-Prince Boateng is slid through on goal on the right side of the penalty area, chesting the ball down beautifully before smashing it in via the underside of the crossbar. A superb goal by the former Tottenham & Portsmouth attacker.
Emanuelson almost makes an immediate impact but his half volley inside the Arsenal flies wide to the left of goal. Ibrahimovic gave him a lovely lay-off to his left, but the Dutch midfielder just cannot get proper contact on the shot.
Clarence Seedorf is forced to make way for fellow Dutch compatriot Urby Emauelson. The midfielder was struggling with what looked like a hamstring tweak and was sadly unable to continue.
Goal.com reporter, Sergio Stanco, reports from the San Siro: "Before the match start Milan fans show a big banner saying: 'One city, two colors, 7 Champions League' and the they designed the city profile with cards and with them wrote Milan."
Milan have 10 men on the pitch at the moment. Seedorf is down with a hamstring problem and Urby Emanuelson is warming up just in case.
Luca Antonini and Thiago Silva combine well defensively to muscle Arsenal winger Theo Walcott off the ball on the Arsenal right flank.
Seedorf takes a shot from the edge of the area but it hits the side netting on Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny's right upright.
Tomas Rosicky unleashes a hard right-footed from 25-yards out outside the box, sliding in from the left flank to hit his shot wide to the right of goal. If the Czech international continues to keep that level of aggression then the Arsenal midfield shouldn't have too many problems.
Clarence Seedorf drifts into an offside position 30 seconds in and is brought back after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's ball lobs over the Gunners back-line.
AC Milan kick-off and the first-leg of this last 16 tie gets underway.
The San Siro is a bubbling and buzzing as the players take up their positions at either end of the pitch. Referee Viktor Kassai, the Hungarian official who took charge of the Champions League final last season, is in charge of the game tonight.
The teams are coming out the tunnel now - AC Milan in their trademark red and white vertical stripes and Arsenal in their all-yellow kit. Final pre-game predictions people? I don't normally stick my neck out but I'm going to guess Milan 1-1 Arsenal, with Ibrahimovic and Walcott on the scoresheet. What say you Goal.com readers?
Henry scored the winner in stoppage time against Sunderland on Saturday, let us not forget. Aaron Ramsey is another who came off the bench in that game to fire the Gunners to glory and the Wales national team captain could be a key figure tonight.
Thierry Henry – unquestionably an Arsenal legend – will almost certainly feature in some form tonight. He could come on late and see fewer than five touches, but he could also make just one touch and that touch could be the winning one. The French striker is returning to New York Red Bulls after this match, having put in an impressive stint in the few weeks he has been back at the Emirates Stadium. He hasn’t ruled out a return next campaign and, with three goals in six games, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger would surely welcome the forward back next season.
After manning the GoalUK Twitter feed this morning, it seemed obvious that thoughts are split 50/50 as to who will leave the stadium the happier side. A surprisingly low amount saw the match ending in a draw, but scores as high as 5-1 and 6-4 were thrown about. What scoreline do you see the clash finishing with? Let me know in the comments section below. Only 15 minutes until kick-off now.
Milan, like Arsenal in some respects, have not had a spectacular start to 2012; another glance at the club’s fortunes show the Italian giants at the top of the Serie A however, and an away (albeit not entirely convincing) win against Udinese last weekend helped to ease fears of a mid-season slump. Milan have multiple impact players – Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Boateng and Clarence Seedorf – who could really hurt Arsenal if given the opportunity, and with a defence weakened with injuries the Gunners will be lucky to keep a clean sheet.
Sergio Stanco, Goal.com's reporter at the San Siro this evening, reports on the atmosphere inside Milan this evening: “Everything is quite outside the stadium, arsenal fans are going in among Milan fans, so it seems everything is ok. Talking with a police man he said me that some riots happened in the centre of the city but nothing too important (he said), but he confirmed me that near the stadium situation is very calm and friendly up to now (and we hope so also in the future obviously). The official tickets sold before the match-day were 60,000 but sales box are still opened so this amount could increase. I also talked with some fans outside San Siro.”
So how do you see the match finishing? Can Arsenal replicate their 2-0 win at the San Siro four years ago, or equal the 1-0 victory Tottenham achieved here a year ago today in the same stage of the competition? The Gunners’ rivals also went into the match on the back of a 2-1 triumph at Sunderland – those who love their omens will no doubt be betting on a win for Wenger’s men tonight.
The Arsenal side that will walk out at the San Siro has two changes from the team that began the Gunners’ 2-1 win at Sunderland at the weekend. Manager Arsene Wenger decides to drop Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in favour of Aaron Ramsey to reinforce the midfield. In defence, Kieran Gibbs returns at left-back after a long spell out through injury, with Per Mertesacker not in the squad after picking up an injury in the late win on Saturday. Thierry Henry is likely to feature from the bench in what would definitely be his last game of his loan spell with the north London club.
AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri makes four changes to the team which beat Udinese 2-1 on Sunday. Luca Antonini starts at left-back in place of Djamel Mesbah, while Mark van Bommel – who missed the Serie A game at the weekend through suspension – comes into the first team for Massimo Ambrosini. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was also suspended for the clash at the weekend but starts up front with Robinho tonight, replacing Stephan El Shaarawy as the Brazilian’s striking partner. In the hole behind the front two Kevin-Prince Boateng is chosen ahead of Urby Emanuelson.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs; Rosicky, Song; Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott; Van Persie. Subs: Fabianski, Coquelin, Djourou, Benayoun, Arshavin, Henry, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
AC Milan: Abbiati; Abate, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini; Van Bommel, Seedorf, Nocerino; Boateng; Ibrahimovic, Robinho. Subs: Amelia, Pato, Nesta, Ambrosini, Bonera, Emauelson, El Shaarawy.
Hello and welcome to the LIVE! commentary of the Champions League tie between AC Milan and Arsenal, in the first-leg of the last 16. I’m Miles Chambers and I’ll be guiding you through the twists and turns at the San Siro. The starting line-ups will be up imminently.
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