Champions League: AC Milan 4Arsenal 0

Arsenal face elimination from the
Champions League after being mauled 4-0
by AC Milan in their round-of-16 first-leg
match at San Siro on Wendesday.
Kevin-Prince Boateng opened the scoring
after 15 minutes, while a brace from
Robinho either side of half-time put the
result beyond doubt before a late penalty
from Zlatan Ibrahimovic left Arsenal with
a mountain to climb in the second leg at
the Emirates on March 6.
The attacking trio of Boateng,
Ibrahimovic and Robinho immediately
looked threatening.
After Clarence Seedorf was forced off due to
injury early on, Ibrahimovic beautifully
controlled a pass into the path of his
replacement, Urby Emanuelson, but the
Netherlands midfielder skewed his shot from
inside the box over the crossbar.
It did not take long for Boateng to do
significantly better. Picked out by Alberto
Nocerino’s chipped pass, the Ghana midfielder
engineered a brilliant volley from the right-hand
side of the penalty area that hit the crossbar on
its way in.
Arsenal soaked up pressure for much of the first
half, but there was little the visiting defence
could do seven minutes before half-time, when
Ibrahimovic broke away from what looked like an
offside position down the left-hand side.
The 30-year-old nudged the ball past Bacary
Sagna and delivered for the arriving Robinho,
who headed beyond Wojciech Szczesny.
Only a desperate challenge from Sagna
prevented Ibrahimovic from converting with a
diving header from close range, as Milan ended
the half very much in the ascendancy.
Thierry Henry, playing his last game for Arsenal
before the end of his loan spell, was introduced
in place of Theo Walcott at the break.
If Wenger was hoping for any kind of fairytale
farewell, he was brought back to reality four
minutes after the restart when Robinho, taking
advantage of Thomas Vermaelen’s slip, latched
on to Ibrahimovic’s pass across the edge of the
box and fired past Szczesny from 20 yards.
Milan began to enjoy themselves with the
security of a three-goal cushion, Philippe Mexes
feeling confident enough to dribble ambitiously
out of defence on more than one occasion, until
Robin van Persie fired them a warning shot after
65 minutes.
The Netherlands forward met Henry’s flick with
a sweetly-struck volley that Christian Abbiati did
very well to turn around the post.
Massimiliano Allegri was quick to react,
introducing an experienced head in the form of
Massimo Ambrosini to shore up the Milan
midfield as Arsenal began to enjoy more of the
Ibrahimovic has taken plenty of criticism during
his career for his perceived underachievement
in these types of matches, but he was
magnificent here and created himself a deserved
goal as the game drew to a close.
Drawing a clumsy challenge from Johan Djourou
in the penalty area after some typically elegant
close control, the Swede coolly converted from
the spot to rub salt into the Arsenal wounds.

Adeola Adebowale

I am a believer in good.