Gunners put to the sword
Arsenal have been left with a mountain to climb to progress in the UEFA Champions League following a 4-0 first leg defeat to AC Milan.
Last Updated: 15/02/12 10:43pm
Arsenal have been left with a mountain to climb to progress in the UEFA Champions League following a 4-0 first leg defeat to AC Milan in the San Siro.
The Gunners were second best throughout and fell behind in the 15th minute courtesy of a spectacular volley from Kevin-Prince Boateng.
The Rossoneri doubled their advantage before the break thanks to a close-range header from ex-Manchester City forward Robinho.
The Brazil international added his second of the game after half-time, angling a right-footed drive beyond Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
AC Milan added a fourth in the 79th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Johan Djourou.
Milan had not won any of their previous seven matches against English clubs, having been knocked out of the Champions League at this stage by Tottenham last season.
However, the Serie A leaders never looked in danger of a repeat on Wednesday, well organised from kick-off as Arsenal struggled to get any sort of foothold, regardless of a poor San Siro pitch which had recently seen the turf relaid down the flanks.
Veteran Dutchman Clarence Seedorf - a European Cup winner with three different clubs - drilled a low effort into the side-netting, before going off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury - compatriot Urby Emanuelson replacing him.
Boateng fired the Italians ahead on the quarter-hour mark. The former Portsmouth and Tottenham midfielder collected a chip to the edge of the Arsenal penalty area on his chest, before turning to fire the ball over Szczesny and in off the underside of the crossbar.
Van Persie's cut-back was blocked as the Gunners captain got clear down the left, before Laurent Koscielny's flicked header from a floated 25th minute free-kick was straight at Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.
Arsenal, however, were soon again giving possession away far too easily, inviting the hosts on.
However, despite having plenty of the ball in the final third, AC Milan failed to carve out any real openings.
Thomas Vermaelen lost out to Robinho, who darted clear but then then failed to cross for Ibrahimovic - who was clear in the middle - as Koscielny made a saving block.
It was 2-0 in the 38th minute when Ibrahimovic charged down the left channel and squared for Robinho to nod in from six yards.
Two minutes before the break, Koscielny hobbled off and was replaced by Johan Djourou - and another change followed at the start of the second half as Theo Walcott was replaced by the departing Thierry Henry.
However, before the World Cup winner had a chance to make an impact, Milan extended their lead.
Vermaelen slipped, which gave Robinho the space to shoot at the edge of the box, and the Brazilian - whose £32.5million transfer to City in 2008 shattered the British record fee - slammed home what looked to be a tie-clinching third goal in the 49th minute.
It was now a case of damage limitation for Arsenal - and it could have been worse but for a complete miskick by Luca Antonini when he was set free following another swift counter.
The value of an away goal, however, meant the tie would still be alive were the English side to fashion a meaningful opportunity of their own.
Abbiati produced a brilliant one-handed save to turn around van Persie's volley after a flick-on by Henry on 65 minutes.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Kieran Gibbs as Alex Song dropped into the back four.However, any hopes of comeback were ended in the 78th minute when Djourou bundled over Ibrahimovic to concede a somewhat soft penalty, which the big Swede slotted into the bottom right corner, leaving Arsenal a mountain to climb in the return leg at Emirates Stadium on March 6th.
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||4|
|11||Shots off Target||3|
|44.5||1st Half Poss.||55.5|
|41.3||2nd Half Poss.||58.7|