Victory in Milan eases pressure on Arsenal boss
Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey clinch Europa League first-leg win for Gunners
08 March, 2018 — By Steve Barnett
AC MILAN 0
ARSENAL 2 (Mkhitaryan 15, Ramsey 45)
ARSENE Wenger refused to get too carried away after watching his side seal a pressure-easing victory at the San Siro tonight (Thursday) against AC Milan.
Goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey made it advantage Arsenal in the race for a place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
But even with a 2-0 lead going into the second leg at the Emirates Stadium next Thursday, Wenger isn’t celebrating just yet.
“It was an important win after a nightmare week,” said the Frenchman. “But it’s not qualification, we still have to finish the job at home.
“Our pace dropped after the first 45 minutes, but that’s down to playing four games in 10 days. Overall I’m pleased with the spirit we showed.
“We defended with resilience until the end, and showed great pride and desire.”
While Wenger praised Arsenal’s defensive display in northern Italy, it was his side’s attacking flair that caught the eye in the first half.
They took the lead on 15 minutes courtesy of Mkhitaryan’s deflected effort. The winger cut in from the left to fire in his first goal for the club with the aid of a deflection off Milan skipper Leonardo Bonucci.
Ramsey deservedly doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, collecting Mesut Ozil’s piercing pass through the centre of Milan’s defence before round keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and tapping into an empty net.
The Gunners could, and should, have added to their advantage. Calum Chambers was almost an unlikely scorer as his fierce drive forced a good save from the keeper, while Mkhitaryan clipped the crossbar when presented with a great chance to net his second of the evening.
Milan tried to up the tempo after the break, wasting a clear early chance to pull a goal back when Giacomo Bonaventura spooned over the bar. Arsenal, however, were largely untroubled as they limited the home side to half chances with a solid defensive display.
AC MILAN: Donnarumma, Calabria (Borini 79), Rodriguez, Romagnoli, Bonucci, Biglia, Bonaventura, Kessie, Calhanoglu (Kalinic 62), Suso, Cutrone (Silva 68)
Subs not used: Locatelli, Montolivo, Zapata
ARSENAL: Ospina, Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac (Maitland-Niles, 62), Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil (Holding, 80), Wilshere, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck
Subs not used: Cech, Iwobi, El Neny, Nelson, Nketiah