For those of you who missed it and missed the headline of today's blog, we won 2-0 in Milan to become the first English side to win against Milan in the San Siro...
The game started well, with both Milan and us a little bit subdued. That lasted for about 4 minutes, where we had a few final third threats but nothing real. Milan’s little Brazilian Pato skipped to the byline and won a corner. From the resulting corner Maldini had his header cause confusion, and in quick succession, from the 5th until the 15th minute we weathered a little storm with a few corners and free kicks which saw Gallas, Senderos and Flamini instrumental in protecting our goal.
But after the first quarter of an hour, we started to show the Arsenal that dominated Milan in the first leg. Good work from Adebayor, playing as the lone striker, laid off a good ball to the onrushing Diaby, who side foot shot went a foot high and a foot wide. Milan weren’t easy opponents and had light efforts from Inzaghi, Pato and Kaka. Kaka was at his best, but seemed to be the major threat. We dealt with him well, and by dealing with him, started to control the game.
Ade had an excellent drive saved on the half hour mark, which he followed up with a curling shot. Both save-able, but a demonstration of our desire to score. Hleb was at his effervescent best and the ball stuck to his foot as he glided passed Milan’s midfield and defence… he worked with Ade and they set up Cesc for an effort which beat Kalac in goal, but cannoned up and over via the bar.
Hleb had a shout for a free kick right on the line of the box, where he was hacked down, but was mysteriously booked for diving. A spot of bad refereeing and a theme for the night. We really did take the game to Milan and the half finished with us on top.
As soon as the second half started, we continued to play well and control the game, Eboue was teed up in an excellent move and a bit of bad defending by the Italian giants, but he shot was laboured and poor, and was wide from 7 yards out diagonally right.
Pirlo had a free kick which Almunia made more of, and Kaka had a shot wide, but apart from that it was all Arsenal. Diaby had one of his better games, Hleb was at his instrumental best and Ade played the lone striker role very well. We saw shots from Hleb, Cesc, Diaby and Ade saved or wide. The Milan defence must have blocked about 10 shots through out the game as well.
As the game reached the last 15 minutes, young Theo Walcott came on and it seems to be the last thing the Milan defence wanted and his pace really tested Maldini and Kaladze. We looked the fitter team and had the lion’s share of possession.
On the 84th minute Cesc picked up the ball in midfield. With Hleb and Theo making good runs, he decided to ignore the pass and take a shot. He was about 30 yards out and he dipping low shot was squeezed in between Kalac and the post. It was a precise effort and a with pace. 1-0 to the Arsenal, Cesctabulous.
As soon as the goal went in, Milan knew they had to score two. Arsene subbed Cesc for Gilberto and we were ready to contain the opposition for the last five minutes. We were on a high and were first to the second balls (if that makes sense). In the final minute of the game / stoppage time, Walcott raced cleared down the right, rode one challenge and squared accurately for Ade to score at the far post. 2-0 the Arsenal and we were through.
Milan were beaten, the game ended and our famous huddle showed what we’re all about. We’re a team and are ready to challenge for the Champions League and the title. We needed this win and we showed we had the quality. The “young pretenders” had achieved what no other team have ever achieved.
Cesc had an amazing game and was instrumental in defence and attack. Yesterday’s blog highlighted the role that Cesc would play and I said:
Cesc needs to play well. I remember the game he had against Juventus where he was everywhere, his tackles were inch perfect and he passing was accurate.
And that we needed that kind of performance… he duly delivered.
Arsene said in his post match interview that Cesc was outstanding, but the whole team played well. Here’s what the gaffer said:
“He (Fabregas) was outstanding, but tonight it is very difficult to single one out. I believe the whole team defended well and attacked well, it was a complete team performance. Of course I’m very, very happy tonight. I’m very proud of our performance, we were under pressure to score goals.”
I’m proud of the performance too. It was truly a great game.
More tomorrow, Laura Bagshawe, more tomorrow.]]>