Arsenal recovered after going behind early to beat AC Milan 3-1 thanks to a brace from English striker Danny Welbeck in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League round-of-16 tie at the Emirates Stadium to progress to the quarters by virtue of a commanding 5-1 aggregate victory.
After the first leg at the San Siro had seen the Gunners emerge as surprise 2-0 winners, the North Londoners were always favourites to progress but their boat was rocked when Hakan Calhanoglu’s thunderbolt from distance beat David Ospina in the 35th minute.
The Rossoneri, playing with nothing to lose, were definitely the stronger of the sides in the first-half but somewhat cruelly were denied the chance to head into the interval with their slender lead intact.
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For match referee Jonas Eriksson adjudged Danny Welbeck’s blatant dive in the Milan box worthy of a penalty kick, much to the dismay of the visitors and the Englishman promptly dispatched the ensuing spot-kick to make it 1-1 late in the second-half.
The momentum was firmly with the in-form Gunners after the equaliser and they would effectively put the game beyond the reach of Gennaro Gattuso’s men when Granit Xhaka’s long-ranger managed to squirm its way past Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 71st minute.
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And Welbeck would pop up with a header four minutes from time to complete the scoreline.
While the Gunners did enjoy their fair share of luck, nobody can deny they were the better side over the course of two legs and will be backing themselves to go all the way in the continental competition.
Arsenal join the likes of CSKA Moscow, Red Bull Salzburg, Atletico Madrid, Lazio, Marseille, Sporting Lisbon and Red Bull Leipzig in the quarters.
The draw for the quarter-finals of the Europa League will be made at 1200 GMT/17.30 IST on Friday at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, directly after the Champions League quarter-final draw.