By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal starting line up : Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck
Beach: Cech, Iwobi, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Elneny, Nketiah
Milan starting the best with a chance in the opening minute. A cross from the left finds an unmarked Milan player but he hits the side net. Arsenal trying to answer this after a corner but the header from Koscielny goes wide. He lands badly and seems to have injured his back a bit. Arsenal attacking most of the two teams but no real chances. A let off…. Koscielny goes down in pain holding his back. He comes off and Chambers comes in his place. Both teams holding each other at arms length most of the time with no real goal scoring chances. 0-0 after 15 minutes.
Monreal with a good run on the left but a defender can clear in front of Welbeck who was waiting for the cross to head it in. Milan has a shot that is blocked and Mkhitaryan recovers the ball and sends Welbeck away with a defender to beat. He goes past him round the outside but his left footed shot is somehow saved by Donnaruma with his right knee. That should have been the opening goal. No score after 30 minutes but both team trying to go forward in what looks a good contest so far.
For once Arsenal don’t close down Milan quickly enough and Calhanogly gets the ball in some space. Xhaka tries to cover the ground to block him but he comes just late and the shot takes a dip and Ospina is beaten. 0-1 for Milan after 37 minutes. Arsenal doubles their effort and the ball is played to Welbeck who goes down in the penalty area…. after some hesitation the ref gives a penalty! The 5th ref behind the goal making the call it seems. Milan unhappy and to be honest I can understand their frustrations. There was some slight contact with the arm but Welbeck surely made too much of it by going down. In real time it looked a real pull but in slow motion it was just a brush of the arm. Donnaruma gets a yellow card for dissent. Welbeck steps up to take the penalty …. and scores. GOAL 1-1 after 37 minutes. I must admit I enjoyed the equaliser but not as much as I would have liked to enjoy it.
Milan claim a penalty for a handball. The ball hit the arm from Chambers when a cross was diverted but the ball came from a close distance and the Swedish refs see no foul. Romagnoli goes in the book for dissent. And so goes Borini. A dangerous situation in the Arsenal penalty area sees Milan miss a few chances to score but the flag had gone up already so all the fuss was for nothing. Arsenal then attacking in the final minutes of the first half and a few shots are blocked. Wilshere then with a shot from outside the penalty area but Donnarumma blockes it and the rebound fall kindly in his arms after bouncing around a bit. Monreal gets a soft yellow card just before the ref blows his whistle to allow the players to have a break. We go in at half time with a 1-1 score. Arsenal leading 3-1 on aggregate. Milan needs to score at least 2 more goals.
Ramsey with the first dangerous shot but his shot is somewhat blocked so a comfortable save for Donnarumma. Özil to Mkhitaryan but the shot is saved for a corner. Mustafi with the header but the ball goes over. But Milan still very much believes in their chances and Suso has a shot from around the penalty spot that goes wide close from the goal post. And then Cutrone with a volley that also is close from the Arsenal goal. Still 1-1 after 60 minutes.
Suso is booked for a dive when he comes close to Mustafi. Kalinic who had just entered the field for Milan with a header but straight at Ospina. Lets stay away at the back Arsenal! After 69 minutes Elneny comes on for Mkhitaryan. My plea has been heard. Arsenal attacking more and Xhaka has a shot from distance…. that somehow goes in! GOAL!!!! 2-1 to the Arsenal after 71 minutes. Donnarumma seemed to have covered the shot but he made a mess of his save and the ball crept in at the far post. Well they all count. This puts us well in front with a 4-1 aggregate score and Milan now has to score 3 goals.
Arsenal controls the match and if for some better decisions could have countered Milan on a few occasions. After 79 minutes Kolasinac comes on for Özil. Wilshere with a run on the left flank deep in the Milan penalty area and he cuts his cross back to Ramsey who heads towards the goal from 5 meters out. Donnarumma with a great blocking save but the ball bounces up to Welbeck who can head the ball over the line from 3 meters out. GOAL!!!! 3-1 after 85 minutes. Job done. Arsenal lead 5-1 on aggregate.
Wilshere again with a shot from just outside the penalty area but it curls wide. The Swedish ref only adds 2 minutes extra time. With the balls being brought back quickly in the match there is less time needed to add when there have been no serious injuries.
Arsenal also wins the second leg with a 3-1 score line and we win 5-1 in total.
Arsenal are in the last 8 of the Europa League. Where we will meet one of the following teams: Atletico Madrid, Sporting CP, Marseille, Leipzig, Lazio, CSKA Moskva and the surprising Salzburg who eliminated Borussia Dortmund!
The draw is tomorrow!