Arsenal outdone as Ibrahimovic inspires Milan to victory
AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal
AC Milan gatecrashed Thierry Henry’s leaving party as they trounced Arsenal 4-0 in the first leg of their last 16 tie. First-half goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng and Robinho gave AC Milan momentum going into the second-half, and it was a second goal from Brazilian Robinho and a penalty from Zlatan Ibrahimovic that looked to seal Milan’s route to the quarter-finals.
Arsène Wenger erred on the side of caution with his team selection, opting to leave young winger Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench, but his cautious tactics back fired, with AC Milan controlling the early possession.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was instrumental in Milan’s attacking play, laying off first-half substitute Emanuelson, who couldn’t find a clean enough contact to trouble Arsenal stopper Szczesny.
Milan laid on the pressure, and a poor clearance from Szczesny fell to Nocherino allowing him to play a quick through ball to former Tottenham player Kevin-Prince Boateng, who smashed his volley past the young keeper and into the top corner.
The goal gave Milan the momentum the needed, and when Ibrahimovic was given the benefit of the doubt in a tight offside call, he picked out Robinho with a brilliant cross, allowing the Brazilian, who was left alone by the Arsenal defence, to head home into the far corner and leave Arsenal with it all to do in the second-half.
With Arsenal staring defeat in the eyes, Wenger brought on all-time leading scorer Henry for the disappointing Theo Walcott, but even Henry couldn’t turn the tide of pressure in Arsenal’s favour. Thomas Vermaleen’s slip allowed Robinho to expertly slot the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Arsenal facing being knocked out of the Champions League with just 50 minutes played in their last 16 tie.
With 25 minutes remaining Wenger rolled the dice for the final time and brought on Oxlade-Chamberlain for Kiernan Gibbs, as his side tried in vain to get a vital away goal. But Arsenal couldn’t find a way past a typically stubborn Italian defence and the night got even worse for the Gunners as substitute Djourou brought down Ibrahimovic, and it was only fitting that the Swede took the penalty to all but secure Milan’s place in the last 16.
Henry may have signed off in perfect fashion by scoring the winner at the weekend, but the gulf in class between the two sides was evident, with the flawless Ibrahimovic controlling Milan’s attack and pulling the strings. Milan now look set to reach the Champions League quarter finals for the first time since they won the competition back in 2007.