AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal

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Interview

Xhaka - We showed togetherness and spirit

Granit Xhaka delivered arguably one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt as we beat AC Milan at the San Siro on Thursday.

The Switzerland international admits that it has been a tough few weeks, and said he was delighted that we managed to dig deep to secure a fine result.

This is what he told Arsenal.com after the match:

on the game…
At the start it was a little bit difficult for us, but after that we made it our game and we scored. I think 2-0 here in Milan is a good result for the first leg.

on the team's character…
Of course. A lot of people spoke about us from the outside, but nobody knows what is inside in the team. We showed togetherness today, we showed spirit and a lot of character.

on how it could’ve been even more than just 2-0…
Of course, but Milan is a good team. I think 2-0 here is a good result for the first leg and now we want to finish the second leg and to win as well again at home.

on the levels of determination to put in a big performance…
Everyone knows that we lost the last four games and that was difficult for us. But as I said before, we showed togetherness today. It was important to be together and to show the people on the outside that we are a team. We showed a good game today.

Interview

'We showed that we have plenty of character'

We produced a fine result on Thursday to beat AC Milan 2-0 in the San Siro - particularly impressive considering our recent run of form.

Aaron Ramsey scored the second against the Rossoneri and was delighted with the way the team responded after a difficult few weeks.

This is what he told the media after the game:

on the game…
We started well, we got a couple of goals in the first half but tonight we showed that we’ve got plenty of characters in this team. It’s never easy to come to the San Siro and play AC Milan, I know that from previous experience. So I’m really pleased that we came here tonight and got the win.

on potentially having a larger margin of victory…
I think we played very well in the first half. We created many opportunities and we moved the ball well. Second half we wanted to protect it a bit more and we kept a clean sheet, which is always important. All in all, it was a good night’s work.

on the work off the ball being just as important as the work on it, after recent results…
Of course. We’ve been on a bad run and sometimes, as hard as you try on the pitch, it doesn’t seem to work. But we’ve trained hard, we’ve tried to do the right things and we know what we’re capable of doing in the dressing room. We showed that tonight.

on whether there’s an element of wanting to silence critics…
Yes. A lot of people are always going to talk, it’s their job to talk and it’s just important for us to keep focused and try to improve and try to work hard through the week. We know what we’re capable of doing, we just have to try and produce that more consistently. It’s just nice that we’ve managed to turn a little corner and come here and get a good result.

 

Interview

Micki - First goal must be just the start

What a time for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to score his first goal for us.

The Armenian midfielder opened his account with a fine finish in our 2-0 win at AC Milan, and after the game he told the media how it felt:

on the performance...
We played very well in the first half. I think we were not very focused in the second half and that’s why we couldn’t find our best game but the most important thing is that we have a two-goal lead and a very good result and performance.

on the result building confidence...
It was very important that we didn’t concede a goal and we scored two in an away game. Now we have to be ready for the next game against Watford and then again, against Milan. Now we know that it won’t be easy in the second leg but we are going to give everything to go through.

on it being a special win...
It’s always special to place in a stadium like the San Siro, but it doesn’t matter if we play away. The atmosphere was great and I think every player likes to play in this kind of stadium and atmosphere. We didn’t pay attention to that, but we were thankful that our fans had travelled from London and all over the world to support us.

on his first goal for the club...
Of course I am very pleased, it was my first goal for Arsenal and I am very happy. But I have to keep doing the same now.

Press conference

'This result will lift our belief again'

Having masterminded one 2-0 victory at AC Milan 10 years ago, Arsene Wenger repeated the feat on Thursday night.

The Arsenal manager was delighted with the response the team showed after losing their previous four games, and this is what he told the media afterwards:

on whether the win was just what we needed…
Yes, and what we wanted especially. At some stage, you need to respond and respond together with a good performance. That’s what we did tonight.

on what he hopes that result will mean…
We have won again but we have not qualified. The result will lift the belief in the team again. When you lose three games in six days, it’s always very difficult. We want to keep our focus and finish the job next week. That’s what the target is.

on whether he feels the tie is over…
No, not at all. I just said that we won the game, we are not qualified. We understand that and we have to finish the job at home. Overall, nothing is [finished] at the moment.

on why the team performed better than against Brighton…
In England, we have a strange system where we have a League Cup final in the middle of the season. We played a cup final in the middle of the season on the Sunday, and then played against the same opponent on Thursday. It’s like a boxing match where you’re half knocked down and you have to face another opponent before you get up again. It’s difficult to recover from a defeat in a cup final when you put so much effort in. You’re always in danger. That’s what happened to us because we had no time to recover, no breather. We had our backs to the wall tonight and we had to respond. That’s what we have shown. We needed to find the mental resources and not just accept it.

Press conference

Wenger - We wanted to show our spirit

Arsene Wenger was understandably a proud - and relieved - man after our fine 2-0 win at the San Siro on Thursday night.

The Arsenal manager was pleased with the spirit his side showed against AC Milan, and this is what he said in his post-match press conference:

on how his team find the ability to perform when backs are to the wall…
When you have big disappointments you forget quickly that you have some qualities. In one week, you do not become a bad team or a bad player. Nothing is permanent in life. What is happening in life is just about how much you want to influence things. That’s what we try to do. As I told you in the press conference yesterday, you have to be pragmatic. Sport is sport and football is football. Today we started the game and faced three or four corners, got away with it maybe. If one goes in, then we stand there again… You have to accept that, what nobody accepts anymore. It’s a coincidence in the game.

on our team spirit…
I feel [we still have it]. That’s what we want to show. That is in front of us and that’s what we want to show, that we have the mental resources and qualities. I spoke about the cup final but people forget that to get to the cup final in England, you need mental resources and you need mental qualities. We lost against a team who is dominating English football at the moment, and it was unexplainable. We have to accept that, it doesn’t mean that the team has no spirit. We all have to show that until the end of the season.

 

Post-Match Gallery

AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal: In pictures

Aaron Ramsey scores v AC Milan

Check out the best shots from our photographers, pitch-side at the San Siro.

Post-Match Report

AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal: How it happened

 

WHAT HAPPENED

Ten years after becoming the first English team to beat AC Milan in the San Siro, we repeated the trick with a performance packed full of heart and desire.

The result - secured after first-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey - gives us a big advantage heading into next week's second leg and will be a huge fillip to Arsene Wenger and his players.

So much had been said, so much had been questioned about the team in the build-up to this game - a do-or-die clash against opponents unbeaten in 13 beforehand.

What sort of response would we get? After weathering an early storm from the hosts - a 15-minute period in which they went close through Giacome Bonaventura and had a penalty appeal waved away - we soon had our answer.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan won this competition last season, and he made another big contribution here as he gave us the lead with a goal that silenced the San Siro.

The Armenian will get the headlines, but Mesut Ozil deserves huge credit for his role in the goal as he found his team-mate with a gorgeous, eye-of-the-needle pass. Mkhitaryan, collecting it to the left of the area, cut back inside and rifled his shot high into the roof of the net.

It was his seventh goal in his past 12 Europa League matches and he looked a constant threat in attack, playing a key role in the next big chance that fell to Calum Chambers, whose firm left-footed effort was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

We had a flurry of chances just before the interval, with Danny Welbeck seeing a shot saved and Mkhitaryan curling one against the bar - but finally made it two on the stroke of the whistle.

Ozil - playing a part in his 100th goal in Arsenal colours - was at its heart again, slipping a lovely ball through to Ramsey, who kept his composure to round Donnarumma and slot the ball into the empty net.

We started the second half with just the same intensity and nearly had our reward with a third as Welbeck raced on to a mishit backpass, but the ball struck Donnarumma before rebounding against the striker and squirming just wide.

We were well on top, but Milan reminded us of their threat seconds later when the ball was played into Bonaventura eight yards out, but he put his shot over the bar.


HOW IT HAPPENED

Check out how the match unfolded with all the standout stats in our play-by-play report

 

WHAT IT MEANS

 

Armed with two away goals, we can look forward to the second leg against Milan at Emirates Stadium next Thursday with confidence.

We last hosted the Rossoneri back in 2012, when we beat them 3-0 in north London - but the result was not enough to take us through in the tie as we lost 4-3 on aggregate.


WHAT'S NEXT

 

We host Watford at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, and will be looking to improve our recent record against them, having lost our last two matches against the Hornets.

 

 

THE KEY MOMENTS

 

It was an open game at the San Siro, with plenty of action at either end. Here are the key moments from an entertaining affair:

3 - Calhanoglu curls a fine inswinging ball in from the right, and Bonaventure just misses it at the back post. A big chance for Milan.

8 - We pounce on a loose ball and Ozil feeds Wilshere in the area, who lays it back to Mkhitaryan but the Armenian fires into the side netting

10 - Calhanoglu cuts out a Chambers clearance and feeds Cutrone in the area, but the Milan forward drives his shot wide of the near post

12 - Milan break and Calhanoglu is played through. He gets to the ball just before the onrushing Ospina and is knocked out of his stride by the goalkeeper but stays on his feet and the referee waves play on despite the home side's penalty appeals

15 - Mkhitaryan gives us the lead with his first goal for the club as he collects Ozil's fine ball into feet in the area, and checks back before firing high into the roof of the net

30 - Calhanoglu curls the ball in from the right, Ospina races out to fist it away and the ball drops to Bonaventure 25 yards out but he volleys wide

42 - Ozil and Mkhitaryan combine as we break upfield and after Milan half clear the danger, Chambers takes aim with his left foot and sees a firm shot saved by Donnarumma

43 - We break again on the counter and Mkhitaryan plays Welbeck in with a good ball behind the Milan backline, but the striker's low shot is saved

45 - Just before half time, Welbeck leads another counter and plays a great ball into Mkhitaryan to the left of the area, and he cuts back in and hits the bar

45 - Ramsey makes it 2-0 after a superb through ball from Ozil plays him in behind the Milan backline and he takes it around Donnarumma and slots it into the empty net

47 - Xhaka and Kessie get involved in an altercation, near the corner flag but the referee breaks it up without any cards being shown

49 - Huge chance as a mishit clearance from Kessie plays Welbeck in on goal, but the ball hits Donnarumma and flies back into Welbeck and squirms agonisingly just wide

52 - Milan go close as the ball is whipped in from the right anfalls to Bonaventura in the area, but he puts his first-time shot over the bar

60 - Mkhitaryan is booked

61 -  Koscielny gets a vital boot to the ball to take it away from Kessie who was racing to get on it

63 - Maitland-Niles comes on to replace Kolasinac

71 - Ramsey is booked for a high boot

80 - Holding replaces Ozil

85 - Elneny comes on for Chambers

Goals

Watch the goals from our win in the San Siro

Strikes from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey saw us secure a 2-0 win over AC Milan on Thursday night.

We'll now have a two-goal lead for the second leg at Emirates Stadium next Thursday, with the added bonus of a clean sheet from the first leg in Milan.

You can watch highlights from our win in the San Siro by pressing the 'play' button above.

Full highlights and match replay available from midnight (UK time) on Saturday.