Arsenal 3 AC Milan 1 (5-1 on aggregate)
Two excellent performances against AC Milan have put Arsenal into the quarter-final of the Europa League - and what a difference a week can make.
Arsenal never really looked in trouble this evening. At the only moment when we may have done, when Milan took the lead on the night midway through the first-half, we responded superbly, attacking the their defence and almost immediately winning the penalty - albeit fortuitously - which restored our aggregate two-goal advantage and all but settled the tie there and then.
I have never before seen a player looking at an official for a penalty before he has even hit the deck, but that’s what Danny Welbeck did. It was very soft, at best, but who cares. We got it and Danny Welbeck got up and scored it.
Credit to Dan, given his record in front of goal lately I can’t say I was that confident he’d tuck it away, but it was as good a penalty as you’ll see, right in the corner, to restore the two-goal cushion.
Good skill from the big man on the right almost led to a goal for Mkhitaryan right on half-time. There’s signs this week and last that Welbeck is getting back to somewhere near his best.
A couple of weeks ago that second half would have been agony, but tonight we pushed again, With Xakha and Welbeck again making it 3-1 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate. Job done.
One sour note was Laurent Kosciely going off after just 10 minutes. Let’s hope he recovers quickly.
Congratulations to Jack for getting back in the England squad today - hardly that much of an achievement considering some of the other English players he’s up against in the midfield stakes, but well deserved.
And finally congratulations to the girls. Arsenal ladies beat Manchester City 1-0 last night to win our fifth Continental Tyres Cup. The women are back in action on Sunday against Charlton, this time in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. With no action for the men for a couple of weeks let’s hope for a big crowd at Boreham Wood.
There’s some good teams in tomorrow’s quarter-final draw, and let’s be honest, we don’t want Atletico Madrid just yet, but after a week to restore some faith, things are feeling just a bit better.