Arsenal have booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, following a 3-1 win against A.C. Milan in the second leg of their Last 16 tie.
A first-half penalty from Danny Welbeck and Granit Xhaka’s strike in the second-half topped the Gunners’ aggregate lead up to 4-1, after seeing Hakan Çalhanoglu open the scoring at the Emirates Stadium.
Welbeck’s second and Arsenal’s third late on made it 5-1 on aggregate, with victory for the North Londoners seeing them progress through to their first European quarter-final since 2010.
On the night, Arsenal were able to welcome back a string of heavyweight names in defence, but one of the Gunners’ key cast members would soon find himself out of action, as Calum Chambers replaced the injured Laurent Koscielny early on.
In spite of the setback, it was Arsène Wenger’s men who enjoyed their fair share of possession at the game’s infancy, as Welbeck tested Gianluigi Donnarumma from the left in the 25th minute.
Milan would soon ask their own questions, however, as Çalhanoglu took his cue to fire at goal from range and reward his club with a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute, beating David Ospina with the swerve of his strike.
No more than two minutes later, Arsenal readied themselves to cancel the Turkey international’s strike out, as Welbeck earned his side a penalty following Ricardo Rodriguez’s innocent challenge.
The ex-Manchester United forward elected himself to step up to the spot, sending Donnarumma the wrong way to make it 1-1 before half-time.
The Gunners were out to amplify their two-goal advantage on aggregate come the second period, as they resumed with Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s strike from the left, aimed at the near-post, to which Donnarumma responded with a save in the 50th minute.
Both sides exchanged opportunities from the edge of the box before the hour-mark, as Aaron Ramsey followed up Suso’s effort wide at one end with a shot over Milan’s goal from Mesut Özil’s lay-off.
Patrick Cutrone neared a second for the ‘Rossoneri’ with an acrobatic volley deep inside Arsenal’s area, but the young striker would also be unable to direct his effort goalwards in the 60th minute.
Nikola Kalinic then came close to making an instant impact off the bench in the 68th minute, courtesy of Leonardo Bonucci’s searching run and cross prior the Croatian target-man’s header into Ospina’s grasp.
Xhaka went on to make the Italians pay just three minutes later, taking on the help of a Donnarumma mistake to power Arsenal to a 4-1 lead on aggregate.
Milan kept chasing a late miracle but Welbeck then extinguished all lingering hopes with a header into an open net in the 86th minute, as Arsenal cruised past the Serie A outfit with a 3-1 victory.
By Patrick Ribeiro
Player Ratings: David Ospina (7) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Laurent Koscielny (5), Nacho Monreal (6) – Aaron Ramsey (7), Granit Xhaka (8) – Mesut Özil (7), Jack Wilshere (7), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (7) – Danny Welbeck (7)
Subs: Calum Chambers (6), Mohamed Elneny (6), Sead Kolasinac (-)