Arsenal 3-1 AC Milan (Agg: 5-1): Danny Welbeck scores twice as Gunners reach Europa League quarter-finals
By Oliver Yew at the Emirates Stadium
Last Updated: 16/03/18 7:37am
Danny Welbeck scored twice as Arsenal progressed into the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a 3-1 second-leg victory and 5-1 aggregate win over AC Milan.
Milan, trailing 2-0 after the first leg, briefly pulled themselves back into the tie when they broke the deadlock thanks to Hakan Calhanoglu's stunning strike on 35 minutes.
However, the Gunners, who lost Laurent Koscielny to injury early on, responded immediately through Danny Welbeck, who scored from the penalty spot (39) after going to ground easily following a challenge from Ricardo Rodriguez.
In what was an end-to-end second-half, Suso, Patrick Cutrone and substitute Nikola Kalinic all spurned chances for the visitors, but their challenge was over when Gianluigi Donnarumma palmed Granit Xhaka's long-range effort into his own net (71).
Welbeck put the gloss on the result in the 86th minute, heading home from close range as Arsene Wenger's side booked their place in the draw for the last eight, which takes place at 12pm on Friday.
Arsenal: Ospina (7), Bellerin (6), Mustafi (7), Koscielny (5), Monreal (7), Xhaka (7), Ramsey (6), Wilshere (8), Ozil (7), Mkhitaryan (7), Welbeck (8).
Subs: Chambers (7), Kolasinac (6), Elneny (6).
Away Team: Donnarumma (6), Borini (6), Bonucci (7), Romagnoli (6), Rodriguez (6), Kessie (7), Calhanoglu (8), Montolivo (7), Suso (7), Cutrone (7), Andre Silva (7).
Subs: Bonaventura (6), Kalinic (6), Locatelli (6).
Man of the match: Jack Wilshere
After a cagey opening, the game burst into life with Milan getting themselves back in the tie as Calhanoglu picked out the bottom corner with a brilliant dipping effort to beat David Ospina from 25 yards.
However, Arsenal, who were forced into an early change with Calum Chambers replacing the injured Koscielny, were level moments later when Welbeck was awarded a contentious penalty by referee Jonas Eriksson. The England international made no mistake from the spot, sending Donnarumma the wrong way to restore Arsenal's two-goal advantage in the tie.
Donnarumma then had to dive at full stretch to deny Jack Wilshere powerful drive in what was a breathless end to the first half.
After the break, the chances continued to come at both ends as Henrikh Mkhitaryan forced Donnarumma into action and Suso slashed an effort wide of the upright.
Wenger made seven changes to the side that beat Watford 3-0 on Super Sunday. Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Elneny and Aubameyang, who is ineligible, were replaced by Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Wilshere and Welbeck. Meanwhile, AC Milan made three changes from the side that won 1-0 at Genoa in Serie A last Sunday. Bonaventura, Biglia and Kalinic dropped to the bench with Montolivo, Cutrone and Andre Silva starting.
The visitors created another glorious opening in the 59th minute when Silva's cross picked out Cutrone, but the youngster's acrobatic volley flashed wide of the far post with Ospina beaten.
Gattuso turned to Kalinic, who replaced Cutrone in the 67th minute and he almost made an immediate impact but his header nestled safely into the arms of Ospina.
The tie was eventually settled in the 71st minute when Donnarumma looked to have Xhaka's drive covered but an uncharacteristic error saw the young Italian goalkeeper parry the ball into the opposite corner.
Welbeck then rounded a good night off for the Gunners with his second of the night as they kept their only silverware hope this season alive.
- Arsenal have reached the quarter-finals of a European competition for the first time since 2009-10 (in the Champions League).
- Wenger's side have won a European knockout match at the Emirates for the first time since March 2012, when they beat AC Milan 3-0 in the last 16 of the Champions League. Indeed, that game was the only occasion in Arsenal's last 10 European knockout games at the Emirates in which they managed to keep a clean sheet.
- Welbeck netted his first goal in European competition since grabbing a hat-trick against Galatasaray in October 2014 - he had not scored in his previous 11 appearances in the Champions League/Europa League. He also scored his first double for the Gunners since September 2017, when he scored twice and assisted the other in a 3-0 win over Bournemouth in the Premier League.
- The Gunners have won both legs of a European knockout tie for the first time since 2003-04, when they bettered Celta Vigo in both legs of the Champions League last 16.
- Mesut Ozil created six goal-scoring chances in the second leg; the most by an Arsenal player in European competition since November 2013, when Ozil himself recorded the same amount versus Marseille in the Champions League.
Man of the Match - Jack Wilshere
It was a night for cool heads at the Emirates as Arsenal saw off the challenge of AC Milan and Wilshere, who took over the captain's armband from the injured Koscielny, epitomised that for the Gunners.
In what was a breathless game, the midfielder celebrated his recall to the England squad with an excellent performance in the middle of the park.
He was neat and tidy in possession, always wanting the ball as he grew into the game and helped drag the Wenger's side over the line.
Arsenal are next in action on Super Sunday (April 1), live on Sky Sports, when they host Stoke in the Premier League. Milan host Chievo in Serie A on Sunday.