Arsenal eased to victory over AC Milan at San Siro to move towards a place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League and end a run of four consecutive defeats in the process.
The Gunners were at a low ebb heading to Italy after poor performances and damaging losses had seen the pressure cranked up on manager Arsene Wenger.
This was supposed to be another tough challenge for a beleaguered Arsenal but instead they outclassed an admittedly poor Milan side as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey struck in the first half to seal a comfortable 2-0 win in the first leg of this last-16 tie.
Tweet of the match
Star man – Mkhitaryan
Mesut Ozil came up with both assists but Mkhitaryan set the tone for a near-perfect away performance in Europe. Milan had not conceded a goal in their previous six games and it was the Armenian who led Arsenal’s charge after they overcame a nervy first five minutes. He caused Milan right-back Davide Calabria all kinds of problems in the first half and it was no surprise when he netted the opener. Wenger would have been encouraged by his January signing’s performance.
Moment of the match
Arsenal caught Milan’s in-form backline cold and were the dominant side in the opening 45 minutes but they were in danger of holding only a slender lead at the break after Mkhitaryan wasted a glorious chance to make it 2-0. The Gunners continued to pour forward in stoppage time, though, and did get the crucial second goal when Ramsey took Ozil’s through ball in his path before rounding Gianluigi Donnarumma and tapping home.
View from the bench
Wenger appeared agitated early on as Arsenal conceded a series of corners but became more relaxed as his side began to cause Milan problems. He was more of a presence on the touchline, standing arms folded at the edge of his technical area for periods of the first half after being rooted to his seat during the 2-1 defeat at Brighton on Sunday.
Milan: Gianluigi Donnarumma 5, Leonardo Bonucci 5, Ricardo Rodriguez 5, Alessio Romagnoli 5, Davide Calabria 5, Lucas Biglia 5, Giacomo Bonaventura 5, Hakan Calhanoglu 5, Franck Kessie 5, Suso 5, Patrick Cutrone 5. Subs: Nikola Kalinic (for Calhanoglu, 62) 5, Andre Silva (for Cutrone, 68) 5, Fabio Borini (for Calabria, 79) 5.
Arsenal: David Ospina 6, Calum Chambers 7, Laurent Koscielny 7, Shkodran Mustafi 7, Sead Kolasinac 7, Granit Xhaka 7, Aaron Ramsey 7, Jack Wilshere 7, Henrikh Mkhitaryan 8, Mesut Ozil 7, Danny Welbeck 7. Subs: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (for Kolasinac, 62) 6, Rob Holding (for Ozil, 79) 6, Mohamed Elneny (for Chambers, 85) 6.
Who’s up next?
Genoa v Milan (Serie A, March 11)
Watford v Arsenal (Premier League, March 11)