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AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal: Impressive Gunners Take Huge Step Towards UEL Last 8 With Deserved Win

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first goal for Arsenal and a cool Aaron Ramsey finish on the stroke of half-time ended Arsenal’s run of four straight defeats to put them in control of their Europa League Round of 16 ties against AC Milan on Thursday night.

Mkhitaryan’s deflected strike 15 minutes in gave the Gunners the lead after both sides had shown their intent going forward in the opening stages. And Mesut Ozil’s pass through the Milan defence allowed Ramsey to double their advantage immediately before the interval, with a goalless second half giving Arsenal a comfortable win.

AC Milan v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg

Following the postponement of all Italian football on Sunday in the aftermath of the tragic death of Fiorentina captain and former Milan youth graduate Davide Astori, Gennaro Gattuso named an unchanged side from the one that beat Lazio on penalties to reach the final of the Coppa Italia eight days ago.

Arsene Wenger meanwhile made three changes to the Arsenal side that lost 2-1 to Brighton at the Amex on Sunday, with Danny Welbeck replacing the ineligible Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ramsey returning to the starting eleven in place of Alex Iwobi, while David Ospina continued his role this season as the Gunners’ goalkeeper in the cup competitions.

AC Milan v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg

Both sides demonstrated their attacking threat in the opening ten minutes, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Patrick Cutrone driving efforts into the side netting at opposite ends of the field.

While both sides looked dangerous going forward, it was clear that both were susceptible at the back, and Arsenal was the first to take advantage. Romagnoli lost the ball in the centre of the park, allowing a long Ozil ball to pick out Mkhitaryan on the left touchline, and the Armenian cut into the penalty area to fire a deflected strike past Gianluigi Donnarumma to make it 1-0.

Though Milan grew into the game in response to Mkhitaryan’s opener, it was Arsenal who went closer to getting the game’s second goal with two efforts on target in the space of a minute, as Chambers’ volley was beaten away by the diving Donnarumma, before Danny Welbeck broke into the area only to see his tame effort comfortably saved by the Italian stopper.

The Gunners would go even closer minutes later. Countering from a Milan free-kick, Welbeck produced a pinpoint pass to play Mkhitaryan in behind the defence, but his effort from just inside the area flicked off the top of Donnarumma’s crossbar.

Then, in the final minute of four added on at the end of the first half, Arsenal did get their second, as Ozil produced a perfectly timed pass to allow Ramsey to run through the Milan back four and stroll around the onrushing Donnarumma to roll the ball into an empty net and double the visitor’s lead.

Within four minutes of the restart, Arsenal were almost gifted a third as Welbeck attempted to latch onto a loose back pass from Franck Kessie, with Donnarumma having to react quickly to deny the striker the chance to get a shot away as he struggled to find his footing.

That Welbeck opportunity sparked Milan into life somewhat, but the hosts continued to struggle in the final third, with Bonaventura firing over while unchallenged inside the Arsenal area and Ricardo Rodriguez hitting a first time effort wide after Arsenal could only half clear a corner.

With Milan continuing to press for a route back into the tie, Bonaventura would again go close as the ball fell to him from a Milan corner, but the midfielder’s powerful effort was well charged down by Arsenal substitute Rob Holding, as Arsenal rode out a spell of late pressure to take a promising lead back to the Emirates.

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