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Arsenal's Comeback Falls 1 Goal Short Versus Milan

London, Mar 7: Arsenal fell one goal short of forcing extra time against AC Milan in the Champions League, going down 4-3 on aggregate in the last 16 despite winning 3-0 in the second leg

India TV News Desk [ Updated: March 07, 2012 10:08 IST ]
arsenal s comeback falls 1 goal short versus milan
arsenal s comeback falls 1 goal short versus milan

London, Mar 7: Arsenal fell one goal short of forcing extra time against AC Milan in the Champions League, going down 4-3 on aggregate in the last 16 despite winning 3-0 in the second leg on Tuesday.


Milan, seven-time winners, advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the title in 2007. Milan crushed the Gunners 4-0 in the first leg at the San Siro on Feb. 15.

Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny found the net from a corner curled in by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the seventh minute. The center back was completely unmarked from about six yards, easily heading past goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.

In the 26th minute, Theo Walcott made a bursting run down the right into the area and his tame cross was poorly cleared by Milan defender Thiago Silva. The ball landed at the feet of Tomas Rosicky, who smashed it past Abbiati to send the Emirates Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

Oxlade-Chamberlain won a penalty a few minutes before halftime after being clattered while running between Djamel Mesbah and Antonio Nocerino. Robin van Persie converted the spot kick with a shot into the top right corner.

Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy missed a golden opportunity to effectively end the two-legged series by scoring an away goal in first-half added time, pulling his shot wide when unmarked in the box.

Arsenal players were given a standing ovation when the players walked toward the tunnel at halftime.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lauded his players for nearly completing what would have been the greatest comeback in Champions League history.

"The players put in a focused performance, showed fantastic spirit," Wenger said. "We can only congratulate the whole team.

"The team has grown together and hopefully from here we can finish the season in a strong way."

Wenger's only regret was being short of options in midfield because of injuries. He also criticized the referee for giving too many free kicks against Arsenal in the middle of the park, saying Milan's players noticed that and used it to their advantage.

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri refused to be overly critical of his players, saying they achieved the target of reaching the next round.

"I'm very happy the fact that we qualified," he said. "It was our main target, especially after winning in the first leg. I knew it was going to be difficult, especially in the first half. The credit goes to Arsenal for what they did in the first half."

The second half was more evenly balanced, with Milan missing a few chances to score. Wojciech Szczesny made an error with a poor clearance but Zlatan Ibrahimovic misfired with the Arsenal goalkeeper off his line.

In the 77th, Nocerino's shot from the left nearly beat Szczesny, who saved with his legs.

Arsenal came close in the 59th. Gervinho was left alone to sprint down the left and he waited too long to shoot, allowing Milan's defenders to recover. He eventually fired a shot, but it deflected off Milan defender Phillipe Mexes and the 'keeper saved with his legs. Van Persie's follow-up went straight into Abbiati's arms.

"I don't think my team had the wrong approach," Allegri said. "Technically, they didn't play well in the first half. We didn't control the ball as we should have done. We kept passing the ball back to the goalkeeper. But we have to give credit to Arsenal."

Arsenal went into the match high on confidence after coming from behind in the team's past two Premier League matches, beating Tottenham 5-2 and Liverpool 2-1.

Wenger described the San Siro defeat as "shocking" and "a disaster," calling it the club's "worst performance in Europe by far."

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