Arsenal 3 AC Milan 1 (5-1 agg)
Welbeck 39 pen, 86, Xhaka 71, Calhanoglu 35

Arsenal cruised into the Europa League quarter finals with a 3-1 win over AC Milan at the Emirates stadium on Wednesday night. Leading 2-0 from the first leg in the San Siro, it was actually Milan who took the lead through Hakan Calhanoglu’s 30 yard stunner, and the Serie A side looked to be in the ascendancy. Arsenal had strung a few neat moves without really troubling Gianluigi Donnarumma, but going a goal behind sparked another level of onslaught. Danny Welbeck won a controversial penalty when Ricardo Rodriguez was adjudged to have caught the England man’s leg. Welbeck dusted himself down to calmly slot past Donnarumma for the leveller. Another howler from the giant Italian Milan keeper allowed Granit Xhaka’s speculative effort through for a 2-1 lead. Welbeck was then best placed to head home from Jack Wilshere’s cross after Aaron Ramsey’s initial header was pushed out. 3-1 on the night, 5-1 on aggregate and for once the Gunners progressed beyond the last 16 in Europe.

Arsene Wenger had come under huge pressure in the past weeks, however this performance and result silenced the most vocal of his critics for now.

” It was a difficult game for two reasons. One is that we played against a good side who are unbeaten in Italy for a long, long time and you could see why. Secondly, subconsciously we were in a protective mode a little bit with the handbrake from the start on. Instead of turning the game forward, we played backwards. That’s always the best way to invite your opponent to be dangerous.

“After that, when we are 1-0 down, you could see straightaway the response was in the team. As soon as we pushed forward, we looked dangerous and I believe overall, we won the two games and finished the games in a convincing way. It was a good game against a solid team and we needed to be resilient and disciplined. But we made a big part and the best part of the job in the first game. It’s always difficult to finish the job. Especially when you have a good away result, because you are a little bit in-between. That’s always difficult,” said Wenger. Arsenal will have to show the same resolve in their two quarter final ties against CSKA Moscow on 5th and 12th April. The first tie is in London.

The interchanging, the passing, the off the ball movement were all high quality with Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all playing at close to their best. Milan are no slouches and even being 2-0 down after the first leg didn’t stop the Serie A side from pushing on all fronts. A lack of quality in the key moments cost them, whereas Arsenal’s quality came to the fore after a few recent setbacks,

“We had a nightmare week and to recover from that you need to be mentally strong, you need to be solid. The team needs to show, together, a response. That’s what we did. Overall, I think many people didn’t expect us to respond like we did. That shows that the team is healthy, has a good basis and we have seen that for many teams, it is difficult to win at home when you have done it away from home.”

The international break means that Arsenal will next be in Premier League action on Sunday April 1st in the lunchtime kick off against Stoke City at the Emirates. Carry on with the form they showed here, and Arsenal could well finish the season with a good run.