Arsenal will take a 2-0 lead back to England with them after defeating A.C. Milan away from home in the Europa League, ahead of the second leg at the Emirates, next Thursday.
Despite recent struggles away from home, the North Londoners were able to overcome Milan, undefeated in their last 13 outings, with a couple of first-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey.
With minimal changes being made from the team that lost 2-1 to Brighton & Hove Albion at the weekend, Arsène Wenger was able to count on the return of Ramsey from injury, as Jack Wilshere kept his place at the expense of Alex Iwobi to play alongside the Welshman and Granit Xhaka.
The game fired up with a shot apiece for the two sides, as both Mkhitaryan and Patrick Cutrone found the side-netting with danger within the opening ten minutes.
Arsenal maintained the buzz and were able to make Milan pay in the 14th minute, as Mkhitaryan was afforded the chance to cut in from the right before overcoming Gianluigi Donnarumma with a deflected shot, placing the Gunners in front.
A disciplined display enabled Arsenal to hold on for much of the first half, whereas there’d be a couple of chances for both Chambers and Mkhitaryan to amplify the score, with the latter going closest when clipping the top of the bar in the 45th minute.
Wenger’s men remained sharp on the break, however, as Mesut Özil picked out Ramsey before the midfielder could round the keeper and make it 2-0 on the brink of half time.
The Premier League outfit may have had even more reasons to celebrate out of the blocks in the second half, as Danny Welbeck closed in on goal before Donnarumma’s intervention almost backfired into his own net off the striker’s block.
It was all hands to the pump for Arsenal from then on, as they bid to keep their two-goal advantage alive in the wake of Milan’s response.
The likes of Suso and Giacomo Bonaventura sent their warnings ahead of the final ten minutes of the game, with the Gunners later requiring an alert David Ospina to prevent Nikola Kalinic from latching onto a ball through on goal.
Arsenal wouldn’t have to face much more, however, as they held on to confirm a 2-0 victory.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Player Ratings: David Ospina (6) – Calum Chambers (6), Shkodran Mustafi (5), Laurent Koscielny (7), Sead Kolasinac (6) – Granit Xhaka (6), Aaron Ramsey (7) – Mesut Özil (7), Jack Wilshere (8), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (7) – Danny Welbeck (6)
Subs: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (5), Rob Holding (-), Mohamed Elneny (-)