MX23RW : Thursday, July 19 01:16:03

Live Commentary: AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal - as it happened

Live Commentary: AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal - as it happened
© Offside
Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Arsenal's 2-0 win over AC Milan, as the Gunners took a giant stride towards the Europa League quarter-finals.

First-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey gave Arsenal a 2-0 win over AC Milan in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie.

Mkhitaryan powered a deflected shot past Gianluigi Donnarumma for the opening goal 15 minutes in, before Ramsey kept his composure by rounding the young goalkeeper and slotting the ball home.

Milan, unbeaten in 13 games prior to this evening, could not muster a response in the remainder of the match to give the Gunners a huge advantage ahead of the return fixture.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

5.00pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the Europa League last-16 first-leg showdown between AC Milan and Arsenal at San Siro. Two of European football's traditional powerhouses come face to face this evening in arguably the pick of the second knockout-round ties, using UEFA's secondary competition to keep their respective campaigns well and truly alive.

5.02pmThat is particularly true in the case of Arsenal, as they head into this match on the back of four successive defeats and are now left fighting on just one front. Milan, by comparison, are at least into the final of the Coppa Italia and are not yet completely out of the top-four picture in their domestic league. Still, this is a competition that boss Genaro Gattuso will be desperate to win to begin his managerial return to the club in style.


STARTING XI: Ospina; Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Wilshere; Ozil, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan; Welbeck

SUBS: Cech, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Iwobi, Nelson, Nketiah

5.06pmStarting with a look at the visitors, under-fire boss Arsene Wenger has made three changes to the side that fell to a 2-1 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend. Aaron Ramsey, rested for that game at The Amex, takes over from the benched Alex Iwobi, while David Ospina replaces Petr Cech in goal and Danny Welbeck is given the nod in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's absence up top.

5.08pmAubameyang is ineligible due to former club Borussia Dortmund's involvement in the Europa League, and Alexandre Lacazette is still more than a month away from returning from an injury layoff, so there is plenty of pressure on the shoulders of Welbeck over these two ties. The England international, battling for a World Cup spot, has just two goals in 23 outings - both of those coming in domestic cup games.

5.10pmThe decision to select Ospina in goal is also a straightforward one, with the Colombian preferred in cup games, and another positive display this evening may even see him given the nod over Cech in the Premier League. As confirmed by Wenger in his pre-match press conference, full-backs Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin are both injured, meaning that Sead Kolasinac and Calum Chambers are used instead. Shkodran Mustafi, who failed to win in three games against Milan while with Sampdoria, starts alongside Laurent Koscielny at centre-back.


STARTING XI: G.Donnarumma; Rodriguez, Romagnoli, Bonucci, Calabria; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Cutrone, Calhanoglu

SUBS: Kalinic, Silva, Borini, Zapata, Montolivo, Locatelli, A.Donnarumma

5.14pmThe home side have had an eight-day break between games following the postponement of the Milan derby at the weekend. That ensures that Gattuso has a full selection of rested players to choose from, and it is therefore no great surprise to see him go with an unchanged XI on the back of the Coppa Italia semi-final win over Lazio last week. The Rossoneri went on to win that tie on penalties to book a final meeting with Juventus.

5.16pmFabio Borini would have been hoping to force his way into the starting lineup, having netted in both legs of the last-32 win over Ludogorets, but he is made to settle for a spot on the bench as Patrick Cutrone - very impressive in his breakthrough campaign at San Siro - is given the nod through the middle, flanked by Hakan Calhanoglu and another former Liverpool man in Suso.

5.18pmCutrone has scored 12 goals in 29 appearances this season, including four in the Europa League, so he could cause some problems for the Arsenal backline this evening. Speaking of defences, there have not been many better centre-backs over the past decade than Leonardo Bonucci, who swapped champions Juventus for Milan last summer as part of a huge squad overhaul. The Italy international will pair up with the younger Alessio Romagnoli this evening.

5.20pmIn the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (cup-tied) and Alexandre Lacazette (injured), it is left to Danny Welbeck to spearhead the Arsenal attack in Milan tonight. Plenty of weight on the Englishman's shoulders, and a chance to show that he can indeed cope with the pressure of leading the side. Welbeck is one of three changes from last time out, alongside Aaron Ramsey and David Ospina.

Danny Welbeck of Arsenal during the Europa League match against Ostersunds FK on February 22, 2018© Offside

5.22pmMilan, seven-time winners of the European Cup, are back playing continental football this season following a four-year absence. They are no longer the giants they were, fading into the pack in the years since their famous victory over Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final triumph. A summer outlay of close to £210m looked as though that was about to change, though, only for a slow start to cost them any chance of challenging for the title.

5.24pmThat huge summer spending spree - albeit for the cost of one Neymar, in context - was supposed to see Milan finally end Juve's stronghold on the Serie A title, or at the very least finish somewhere in the top four to usher in the return of Champions League football to this famous venue. The Rossoneri were also installed as the early favourites to win the Europa League - a competition they are now using as a springboard for a place in UEFA's flagship competition.

5.26pmA poor start to the season would ultimately cost Vincenzo Montella his job in November, and with it any realistic hope of finishing in the top four. Or so that appeared to be the case, as Milan now find themselves back in the picture - just - thanks to some vastly improved results since legendary player Gattuso was brought in. Despite his lack of experienced in the big time, Gattuso did at least put in the hard yards in the lower leagues.

5.28pmGattuso was initially brought in for what looked like being a caretaker spell, potentially until the end of the season when a bigger managerial name would be recruited. Following near enough the worst possible start when becoming the first side to drop points against basement club Benevento - very much the nadir - Milan have since improved drastically and have won 63% of their 19 matches under Gattuso.

5.30pmThirty-one goals have been scored and 18 conceded across those games, with Gattuso's appointment all of a sudden looking an inspired choice. Milan are unbeaten in their last 13 matches, starting with a crucial 1-0 win over rivals Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia just after Christmas - defeat in that one and the managerial experiment to turn to another club legend may well have ended before it had truly begun. As it is, momentum is now with the Rossoneri heading into this tie.

5.32pmMilan find themselves outside of the European spots on goal difference but, more crucially, are still eight points adrift of Lazio in fourth place. They do have a game in hand to play, though, following the postponement of the hotly-anticipated Milan derby last weekend following the tragic death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori. The 31-year-old came through the Rossoneri's ranks, so this will be a tough evening for the proud Italian club.

5.34pmGattuso's men have therefore gone more than a week since overcoming Lazio on penalties in their most recent outing, setting up that Coppa Italia final showdown with Juventus. Milan still have plenty to play for in the cup, Serie A and indeed in the Europa League, then, and they have been installed as the slight favourites to make it through to the quarter-finals of this competition. Despite their stature, they are desperate to go all the way.

5.36pmIt is now six wins in a row for Gattuso's charges in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in each of those - a remarkable run of form considering how poor they looked for large parts of the first half of the campaign. In Europe, meanwhile, they have already played 12 matches to make it this far, having entered the bloated competition at the third qualifying round back in pre-season.

5.38pmAfter overcoming minnows Craiova and Shkendija, Milan then went on to top Group D with 11 points from a possible 18, only tasting defeat in their final game away at Rijeka. They then saw off Ludogorets 4-0 on aggregate in the first knockout round to set up this tasty last-32 showdown with Arsenal, who are very much relying on the Europa League to salvage their season - long=serving manager Wenger's job may well depend on it, in fact.

5.40pmPREVIOUS MEETINGS! These two sides have met twice before in the Champions League; Arsenal winning 2-0 on aggregate in 2008 but famously losing 7-0 four years later. AC Milan hold the upper hand overall, having also prevailed 2-0 over two legs in the 1995 Super Cup, scoring both of those goals here following a goalless draw in London.

Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso pictured on February 10, 2018© SilverHub

5.42pmThe Gunners head into this match occupying sixth place in the Premier League, 13 points adrift of a top-four spot and now left seeking a backdoor route into the Champions League. Finishing inside those elite places at the top of the division was so often seen as a safety net for Wenger, who has also lifted the FA Cup three times in four years in his defence, but that is no longer the case as his side face back-to-back campaigns outside of the competition.

5.44pmArsenal are on a four-match losing run and are heading for their worst campaign under Wenger by quite some distance, adding fuel to the fire for those who have been calling for his head for the past few years now - even longer in some cases. Not since 2002 have they endured a worse losing run, in fact, and there is a real possibility that this summer could finally be the end for Wenger, nearly 23 years after first arriving in North London as a relative unknown.

5.46pmWenger has managed to prolong his side's European campaign into the spring for a 19th-successive year, though this is not what supporters envisaged. Rewind back to last summer and there was serious talk of Arsenal challenging for the title, using Leicester City and Chelsea as inspiration - the last two winners of the Premier League, neither of whom had Champions League football to contend with.

5.48pmEven in overcoming minnows Ostersunds in the last round, serious questions were asked of Wenger and his men. In many ways, the 2-1 home loss in the second leg could well be seen as the beginning of the end for Wenger, as three more defeats have followed - including a heavy loss to Manchester City in the EFL Cup final - and all of a sudden the Frenchman is desperately relying on progression in a competition so often derided.

5.50pmIn fairness to Arsenal, though, they have found life in the Europa League pretty straightforward up until this stage. Even accounting for defeats to Koln and Ostersunds, and a home stalemate with Red Star Belgrade, the Gunners eased through their group and were comfortable enough in that home second leg last month, despite a minor scare. That loss in Germany was the only time they have failed to win in their last six European away outings, in fact.

5.52pmDID YOU KNOW? AC Milan have a mixed record against English clubs in UEFA competition, winning 11, drawing 11 and losing 12. At San Siro they have won eight of 15, with their only three home defeats in that time coming in their last four matches, including in the 2007-08 campaign when Arsenal claimed victory here. Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United also left here victorious in back-to-back seasons.

5.54pmThat three-match losing run to English opposition here ended with victory against Arsenal in 2012, however, which was their last meeting against a team from the Premier League. The Gunners, for what it is worth, have won on four of their last eight trips to Italy - all in the Champions League - and even the two defeats in that time did not prove to cause too much damage as they still made it through on both occasions.

5.56pmArsenal's overall record against Italian opposition is won 15, drawn eight and lost eight. This is certainly not the easiest of places to visit, though, as AC Milan have lost just one of their last 20 European matches here. In terms of their home record in this year's Europa League, the Rossoneri have won five and drawn one of their six outings, en route to making it past the group stage for the 13th-time running in European competition.

5.58pmWith kickoff in Italy now just a couple of minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.

Genaro Gattuso: "I've been through games like this as a player, everything is different now. Compared to Wenger I'm a rookie, I'm just starting and he's been coaching for 30 years. We're preparing, Arsenal are a technical team that doesn't like defensive transitions. We'll have to do well not to suffer from what they do, and then make them run when we have the ball. We can't make mistakes and we need to keep our composure. We must not be afraid of the 70,000 fans that will be at San Siro and show our qualities, both technical and physical. We must make it very difficult for them."

Arsene Wenger: "It makes me think a little bit about last year. Last year with the FA Cup, we made 75 points in the league and missed the Champions League by one point only. Seventy-five points is still a very good score what we will not reach this season. [The Europa] is an opportunity we have to take. It increases the pressure even more on this competition. It is certainly difficult when you go through a patch like we are but I believe it is a good opportunity to show you have the quality and strength. You can only show that when it is difficult. It is a good opportunity to show we can deal with that and as well, on the longer term, it will make the team even stronger."

Arsene Wenger gestures during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Manchester United on December 2, 2017© Offside

1 minKICKOFF! Following a well observed minute's silence for former Milan youth product Davide Astori, who tragically passed away last weekend, we are officially up and running at San Siro. Big night ahead for both of these sides!

3 minMilan hound Ramsey off the ball and quickly attack, winning a corner from Mustafi once Cutrone got the ball into the box. A cross then came in from the other flank, which Giacomo Bonaventura was inches away from tapping into the net.

5 minA lively start from the in-form hosts to say the least, as Cutrone won a couple of corners and Bonaventura so nearly converted one of those deliveries at the back post. Arsenal need the game to settle down, and they in turn can gain some composure.

7 minEnd-to-end feel to the game now as Kolasinac gets into the opposition box but sees his cross cut out. That signals Milan's latest attack, ending with Chambers unintentionally taking a blow to the face. Not a lot in it - he should be fine to continue.

9 minSHOT! Promising sign for Arsenal fans, as Ozil gets involved and works the ball to Wilshere. The Englishman backheeled it into the path of Mkhitaryan, who rather dragged his shot into the side-netting. Half a chance, that!

11 minSHOT! This game has not settled down at all, with Cutrone nearly taking advantage of the frenetic nature of things. The youngster let the ball roll in front of him and then sliced it into the side-netting. Both teams with wayward shots in quick succession.

13 minWe basically have a basketball match on our hands at the moment - Arsenal attack, followed by a Milan attack, followed by an Arsenal attack. No real quality in the final third at either end so far, though, with neither keeper tested.

15 minOspina looked to get away with one here, as Ospina raced out and failed to win the ball, instead only managing to force Calhanoglu to leap over his body. The officials decided against penalising the keeper, and it looked to be outside the box anyway.


17 minA belting strike from Mkhitaryan to give Arsenal the lead in Milan, cutting in on his right boot and blasting it past Donnarumma via a touch off Bonucci. The power may have beaten Donnarumma even without the deflection on its way through.

19 minWilshere taken out by Biglia right in the middle of the park. The match is still incredibly open, which at the moment is suiting Arsenal as they have a lead and know a second away goal will put them in complete control of the tie.

21 minThe opening quarter of this match flying past. We have already played 21 minutes and it is Arsenal, thanks to a powerful strike from Europa League specialist Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who hold a slender advantage at this point.

23 minA deep cross from Calabria has too much on it for Calhanoglu, who had peeled away from his man. For all their attacking play, Milan not shown a great deal of composure in the final third - just the one wayward Cutrone shot.

25 minNot a great deal of action since Arsenal took the lead, and there is another stoppage in play for Calabria to receive some treatment. Wenger will be pleased with the way this game is panning out, as Milan are looking very frustrated.

27 minThe half-hour mark fast closing in now at San Siro, where Arsenal still hold a slender lead. Calabria is still in some discomfort and may well be taken off before we reach half time. Interestingly, the more advanced Borini has been sent out to warm up.

29 minMkhitaryan has a shocker by overhitting the ball, leaving his side exposed as they had committed a few bodies forward. Not that Milan could make it count, though, as Calhanoglu's intended reverse pass was poor and Arsenal cleared their lines.

31 minArsenal win a contentious third corner kick of the evening. They are reluctant to send it into the box, instead using Ramsey to retain possession before the Welshman spots Wilshere's run in the box. Another corner follows, which Milan deal with.

33 minOspina completely takes out Mustafi when charging out to punch the ball clear. Cutrone latched on to the loose ball but could only blast the volley wide. Now another stoppage in play for the two Arsenal players to receive treatment.

35 minAfter an explosive opening 15 minutes or so to the contest, we have not seen a great deal of action. Mkhitaryan's goal continues to separate the sides, with Milan unable to muster a shot on Ospina's target in response.

37 minThe home side win a free kick in a promising position, which Suso swings towards the back post. Well defended by Arsenal, as is the resulting corner. Wenger will happily take another 53 minutes or so of this from the Rossoneri.

39 minBonaventura with an inswinging cross, which Ospina decides to leave - right choice in the end, as the Milan player coming in at the back could not quite get to it. Arsenal doing well to break up play as we enter the final five minutes of the half.

41 minBonaventura with a simple pass to make, yet he misses his teammate and instead sends it straight out of play. A very frustrating first-half showing as far as Milan are concerned, failing to give a true account of themselves here.

43 minNot seen a great deal from Arsenal in an attacking sense for a while, but some danger now as Chamber's cross from the right loops into the air before eventually being cleared behind. A second for the Gunners would crush the home side.

45 minSAVES! Really good save by Donnarumma - the first made by either keeper so far. Chambers with a well-struck shot from the edge of the box, which the youngster pushed away. Then, a minute later, Welbeck drove into the area and was denied down low.

45+2 minOspina was nowhere near collecting the Milan corner, leaving hearts in mouths as Bonucci glanced it wide. The centre-back will feel that he should have done better there, perhaps, as he only had to time his run better and it may well have been 1-1.


45+5 minA potentially huge second goal in this tie for Arsenal, coming via a composed Ramsey finish. The Welshman held his run and, after being slotted clean through by Ozil - two assists for him - rounded Donnarumma and rolled it into an empty net. Mkhitaryan skimmed the crossbar moments beforehand.


6.54pmArsenal in complete control of this last-16 tie at the midway stage of the first leg, then, thanks to first-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey. Both nice goals in their own way, both assisted by Mesut Ozil who has himself had a quietly efficient opening 45 minutes.

6.57pmIn the fourth two-legged affair between these traditional European powerhouses, the contest started in a frantic manner as both teams took it in turns to attack. All either side had to show for the end-to-end battle were wayward shots from Patrick Cutrone and Henrikh Mkhitaryan into the side-netting, before the Armenian international made a more telling impact on the game 15 minutes in.

7.00pmAfter controlling the ball with his chest and cutting on to his right foot, Mkhitaryan powered a shot past Gianluigi Donnarumma via a telling touch on its way through. The next half an hour were drama free, as Milan - on a six-match winning run without conceding - failed to really make the most of possession in the final third of the field.

7.03pmArsenal upped things in the closing stages of the first half, testing Donnarumma through a well-struck Calum Chambers drive and a low shot from Danny Welbeck after charging into the box. Then came a big moment in the tie as, moments after Mkhitaryan clipped the crossbar in a near-replica of his first goal, Mesut Ozil slotted through Aaron Ramsey for the Welshman to round Donnarumma and roll the ball into an unguarded net.


AC MILAN SUBS: Kalinic, Silva, Borini, Zapata, Montolivo, Locatelli, A.Donnarumma

ARSENAL SUBS: Cech, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Iwobi, Nelson, Nketiah

Alex Iwobi of Arsenal in action with Ronald Mukiibi of Ostersunds FK in the Europa League on February 22, 2018© Offside

46 minRESTART! Arsenal get us back under way at San Siro, where neither manager has made any changes at the break. Wenger will take full time now, knowing that his side are in complete control ahead of the return leg thanks to their two away goals.

48 minThe time-wasting tactics already being deployed by Ospina, who takes his time before launching the ball forward. Cannot blame him, really, as Arsenal done all the hard work in the opening 45 minutes - now they just want full time.

50 minSAVE! Great goalkeeping from Donnarumma, who got to the ball ahead of Welbeck once the Englishman had charged through. The young keeper made contact with the ball and it cannoned back off Welbeck, before ending wide.

52 minSHOT! Giacomo Bonaventura turns on the edge of the box and gets a shot away, but it was rather tame and easily handled by Ospina down low. I make that the first save that the Colombian keeper has had to make all evening.

54 minCHANCE! Three chances in the space of five minutes or so, the best of which has just fallen to Giacomo Bonaventura. The midfielder somehow guided the ball over the crossbar when being left in space 12 yards from goal.

56 minMilan really should be level after that chance for Bonaventura, though carry on at this rate and they will soon have a route back into the match. Arsenal just looking to defend at the moment and wait for any counter-attacking opportunities.

58 minBonaventura has been heavily involved in this second half, getting away another shot which this time ends over the bar via a deflection. The Rossoneri enjoying some sustained pressure now as they go in search of a goal that will change the complexion of things.

60 minYELLOW CARD! Giacomo Bonaventura on a one-man mission to drag Milan back into the game. This latest effort is the worst of the lot, though, ending nowhere near Ospina's goal. Sead Kolasinac with a deliberate handball to earn the game's first caution.

62 minAC MILAN SUB! Both sides make a change with less than half an hour to play. Maitland-Niles and Kalinic are introduced in place of the injured Kolasinac and Calhanoglu respectively. Milan the team on top in this second half.

64 minThe minutes fast ticking down at San Siro - where have the last 20 minutes gone?! - and Milan still desperately chasing a route back into the match. A ball is sent high over the Milan backline for Welbeck, but he fails to keep it in play.

66 minWenger may be tempted to bring on inexperienced striker Nketiah as this one edges towards its conclusion - some fresh legs in behind would be ideal, as Welbeck is running a lost cause at the moment. Up the other end, Suso wins a corner.

68 minAC MILAN! Andre Silva, one of numerous big-name arrivals as part of that £210m summer splurge, is brought on with a little over 20 minutes left to play. Cutrone, not involved as he would have liked tonight, makes way.

70 minMilan continuing to plug away but, much like in the first half between Arsenal's first and second goals, they are failing to create too many openings. One shot on target this second half - one more than their opponents have managed.

72 minYELLOW CARD! Ramsey with a rather high challenge, earning himself a yellow card and giving away a free kick in the process. The set piece is struck goalwards, but it takes two deflections and does not make it as far as Ospina.

74 minThis is turning into a real night of frustration for Gattuso's men. Bar a five-minute spell near the start of the second half, we have seen barely any goalmouth action since the restart, which will suit Arsenal down to the ground.

76 minOspina makes his presence in the area known by coming out to collect a right-sided cross. Gattuso still has one change available to make should he wish, while Wenger has two more at his disposal as we approach the final 10 minutes.

78 minAC MILAN SUB! Poor attempt from Suso, who cut inside on his left before sending the ball high and wide. All three changes now made by Gattuso, as Fabio Borini - prolific in the round of 32 - is on for Calabria late on.

80 minSHOT! Bonaventura has been the standout performer for Milan tonight, getting another shot away which this time deflects marginally wide. Prior to that, Mesut Ozil was replaced by Rob Holding for the visiting team as Wenger goes more defensive.

82 minArsenal now knocking the ball around, as they ease their way over the line. A third would be the cherry on top of the cake, but Wenger will be more than happy with this two-goal advantage heading back to the Emirates in a week's time.

84 minSAVE! Good goalkeeping from Ospina to charge out and get to the ball ahead of Nikola Kalinic, who could not flick a boot at it. Tense final six minutes or so, as a goal for the home side will give them a boost of sorts ahead of the return fixture.

86 minARSENAL SUB! Mohamed Elneny is now on for Calum Chambers in the sixth and final change of the evening. Four minutes of normal time to play, plus presumably around the same amount added on at the end of this first leg.

88 minI think "professional" is the best word to sum up this Arsenal performance tonight. Debatable whether they deserved to be a couple of goals up at the end of the first half, but having opened up that advantage they have held on rather comfortably.

90 minPoor from Welbeck, knocking the ball straight to an opposition player without looking up. AC Milan with a chance to counter but, unsurprisingly on the basis of the previous 90 minutes, they fail to truly make the most of it.

90+2 minWe are two minutes into the five added on at the end of the second half, and there is no real chance in the flow of things. Milan still knocking on the door, without really looking likely to knock it down. Arsenal will kick themselves if they concede.

90+4 minJust 60 seconds or so left to play at San Siro - surely time is now up for Milan's hopes of taking a goal with them to North London. The away fans the ones making all the noise at the moment, having seen their side produce a professional display.


8.02pmArsenal will take a commanding 2-0 advantage back to the Emirates Stadium for next week's second leg thanks to first-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey. The hard work was very much done in the first half, as the second 45 was all about remaining compact at the back against a rather poor AC Milan side.

8.04pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from San Siro. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, while reaction from this last-16 first-leg tie can be found elsewhere on the site in due course. Thanks for joining!

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Mesut Ozil in action during the Premier League game between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal on March 4, 2018
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