Arsenal bounced back from a difficult few weeks with an important victory at the San Siro. The Europa League has now become Arsene Wenger’s main priority, given that they are 13 points off a top four finish in the Premier League.
Milan had started the brightest with Hakan Calhanoglu initially causing Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi problems in Arsenal’s right defensive channel. The Turkish attacker’s link-up with Patrick Cutrone enabled Milan to look mildly threatening.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his first goal for the Gunners with quarter of an hour gone to settle his side’s nerves, when his shot was heavily deflected off Leonardo Bonucci. Chambers and in-particular Danny Welbeck had big chances at the end of the first half, but Gianluigi Donnarumma had no issues in keeping them out of his net.
However, Arsenal weren’t finished and Mkhitaryan cut inside onto his right foot again, as his effort skimmed the crossbar after a positive run from Welbeck. Aaron Ramsey rounded Donnarumma with extreme composure after another Mesut Ozil assist to put Arsenal into a commanding lead.
Coach Gennaro Guttuso switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 with the introduction of former Fiorentina and Blackburn forward Nikola Kalinic on the hour. Milan offered a little more threat, although David Ospina wasn’t exactly overworked.
It was a big result for Arsenal and Wenger, but it must be remembered it’s far from a vintage Milan team. They have improved immensely in recent weeks, as they were unbeaten in their last 13 games and had kept six consecutive clean sheets.
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Milan remain seventh within Serie A and they will be immensely disappointed, as they were the fresher side given that they had the weekend off after their derby with Internazionale was postponed following the death of Davide Astori. It was only Arsenal’s second win in their last nine away games and given the historical importance of the setting it should inspire them to greater success for the remainder of the campaign.
Atletico Madrid brush aside Lokomotiv
Argentine goalkeeper Axel Werner made his debut for Atletico Madrid against Lokomotiv Moscow, with Jan Oblak picking up an injury in training and Miguel Angel Moya departing on a free transfer to Real Sociedad just last week. However, the 22-year-old was rarely tested as Diego Simeone’s team comfortably dominated the game.
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Saul Niguez strike from distance for the opener was fantastic, although the Lokomotiv defenders were slow to close the midfielder down. Lokomotiv keeper Guilherme then tried to dribble the ball past Antoine Griezmann, but the French striker tackled him, and his side-footed shot sailed past the open goal.
Diego Costa immediately added a second after the interval after Guilherme had made a decent stop to deny Griezmann. Koke finished in stoppage time to almost guarantee Los Rojiblancos’ participation in the last eight.
Salzburg could be outsiders for the competition
Austrian champions Salzburg provided the shock of the round, as they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Westfalenstadion. Manager Marco Rose played under Jurgen Klopp at Mainz and his tactical structure has plenty of similarity with Liverpool’s pressing style.
Salzburg grew in confidence as the first half progressed, with Dortmund captain Marcel Schmelzer forced to clear off the line following Munas Dabbur’s header over the stranded goalkeeper Roman Burki. Hwang Hee-Chan then hit the Dortmund upright on the stroke of half-time.
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Valon Berisha scored his third and fourth goal in the last four matches, when he converted a penalty after the restart and then finished expertly just seven minutes later. Peter Stoger’s team did respond when Andre Schurrle bundled the ball over the line from substitute Christian Pulisic’s cross to keep the tie alive.
Mariano responds to Genesio’s criticism
The pressure was beginning to build on Lyon coach Bruno Genesio, with his side without a win domestically since they beat Paris Saint-Germain. They were also without star man Nabil Fekir who was absent once again after he missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Montpellier.
Genesio has been particularly scathing of both Memphis Depay and Mariano in the last few weeks, as he criticised his attacker’s individualism and selfishness. However, the two combined to give them a 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow.
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CSKA’s Musa had the first real opportunity of the match, whilst Aleksandr Golovin forced a couple of routine saves from Anthony Lopes in the opening 45 minutes. Lyon looked better on the counter attack in the second half and Mariano’s header was his third goal in as many games.
RB Leipzig should be wary of Zenit in the second leg
Zenit Saint Petersburg were poor once again in their away leg, as RB Leipzig continued their European development. Celtic know very well that the Russians are a very different proposition at the Krestovsky Stadium.
Leipzig were fully in control when Emil Forsberg beat Zenit shot-stopper Andrey Lunev with an excellent free-kick, but it rebounded off the inside of the post. The Swedish midfielder had three set-piece attempts in the first period, but this was the closest he came.
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A sublime back heel from Timo Werner allowed Bruma to open up his body and slot home into the far corner to give Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men the deserved advantage. Werner should have made it two, when Naby Keita pressed Zenit into a mistake.
The 22-year-old did extend Leipzig’s lead when he chipped the ball over Lunev just two days after his birthday. Domenico Criscito gave Roberto Mancini’s team a surprising away goal when his quality free-kick gave Peter Gulasci no chance.
Ocampos brace shows Marseille have depth in their attacking options
Marseille started in emphatic fashion as they scored twice in the opening 14 minutes versus Athletic Club. It took just 45 seconds for Lucas Ocampos to finish with an exquisite touch following a stunning pass from Florian Thauvin.
Xabier Etxeita’s unbelievably poor attempt at clearing the ball then fell to Dimitri Payet and the former West Ham playmaker controlled it with his chest and volleyed it past Iago Herrerin. Valere Germain had two further quality chances, as he pounced on the Basques’ dire defending.
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However, Athletic were offered a lifeline when Aritz Aduriz dinked the ball down the middle from the penalty spot, with Adil Rami harshly adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball. Ocampos got another in the second half when he latched onto Payet’s cutback, although the victory was marred by the injury to Thauvin who left the field on a stretcher.