Milan’s Europa League ambitions are in tatters after a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey silenced San Siro.
The Rossoneri were going in unbeaten in 13 competitive games and having just qualified for the Coppa Italia Final. Luca Antontelli, Mateo Musacchio, Ignazio Abate and Andrea Conti missed out, but Arsene Wenger’s fallen giants were in disrepair. The Gunners sold Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Mathieu Debuchy in January, had Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal injured, with ex-Milan youth team player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cup-tied.
These clubs hadn’t met since the 2011-12 Champions League Round of 16, when Milan dominated the first leg 4-0 only to lose 3-0 in London. Arsenal haven’t reached the quarter-finals of a European competition since 2009-10 and lost their last four competitive games.
It was an aggressive start from Gennaro Gattuso’s men, with a series of corners, one deflected just beyond Jack Bonaventura at the back post.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Patrick Cutrone hit the side-netting from promising positions, but Hakan Calhanoglu opted to jump over David Ospina rather than go down in the penalty area after a mistimed rush off the line.
Lucas Biglia gave the ball away repeatedly and Milan paid for it, as Mesut Ozil set up Mkhitaryan, whose shot took a deflection off Leonardo Bonucci to fly under the bar. It was the first goal the Rossoneri had conceded in 599 minutes of competitive football.
Davide Calabria had a knock to the knee and required treatment twice, but had to play on, as there were no other full-backs available. With Suso not tracking back to help, Arsenal ran wild down their left.
Gianluigi Donnarumma beat away a Calum Chambers strike and moments later smothered the Danny Welbeck angled drive. Bonucci’s extraordinary leap surprised Ospina on a corner, but he nodded wide from four yards.
Mkhitaryan was on the end of a Welbeck slide-rule pass in a similar position to his goal, but this time his curler clipped the top of the crossbar.
Deep into four minutes of stoppages, Arsenal scored their second. Alessio Romagnoli kept Aaron Ramsey onside on an Ozil through ball, dribbled round Donnarumma to deposit into an empty net and silence San Siro.
The second half didn’t start any better, as Franck Kessie’s shinned clearance turned into an assist for Welbeck and Donnarumma rushed off his line to do just enough.
Bonaventura should’ve got one back for Milan, but blazed over from 12 yards on a Calabria assist. Laurent Koscielny made a decisive interception to stop Kessie going clear on a chipped Calhanoglu pass, but Sead Kolasinac limped off.
Milan poured forward in the closing stages, but Suso horribly fired over when unmarked, then Koscielny’s sliding block cut Kessie short and Ospina rushed off his line to clear from Kalinic. Gennaro Gattuso's men now have a mountain to climb at the Emirates.
Milan 0-2 Arsenal
Mkhitaryan 15 (A), Ramsey 45+3 (A)
Milan: G Donnarumma; Calabria (Borini 77), Bonucci, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Cutrone (Andre Silva 68), Calhanoglu (Kalinic 62)
Arsenal: Ospina; Chambers (Elneny 85); Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac (Maitland-Niles 62); Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere; Ozil (Holding 79), Mkhitaryan; Welbeck
Ref: Turpin (FRA)
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