Padraig Whelan Date: 15th March 2018 at 10:55pm
Written by:

A first half dive from Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck helped his side on their way to a 3-1 win on Thursday night after AC Milan had given them an early scare in the Europa League.

The incident came at a key moment in the tie, moments after the Diavolo had went ahead on the night through Hakan Calhanoglu and move to within a goal, but the striker’s piece of simulation won a penalty which he took himself to kill of the Serie A side’s chances as they went on to win 5-1 on aggregate with two goals inside the final 20 minutes.

Milan knew the importance an early goal could have on Arsenal’s, and their own, confidence and some sections of the crowd thought they had it inside the opening two minutes when Andre Silva’s strike rippled the side netting.

Midway through the half, the Diavolo were almost punished for being too over-adventurous in seeking the opener as they were caught out on the break but Gianluigi Donnarumma stood firm at his near post to save from Welbeck.

Ten minutes after that though, Milan did make the breakthrough that brought the tie back to life when Calhanoglu took on a speculative 35-yard-drive which dipped and swerved beyond David Ospina and into the bottom corner.

That was instantly undone when the Gunners went at their opponents from the kick-off and levelled in the most controversial circumstances, which Gennaro Gattuso was rightly furious about.

A Henrikh Mkhitaryan ball behind the defence was latched onto by Welbeck who made the most of Ricardo Rodriguez being in his vicinity to throw himself onto the ground under no contact and the assistant behind the goal signalled for a spot kick.

From the resulting penalty, the Englishman calmly stroked the ball into the net, sending Donnarumma the wrong way and he and Alessio Romagnoli were both booked for their protests.

The teenage goalkeeper did keep out Jack Wilshere’s stinging drive before the break and Mkhitaryan again shortly after the restart for an Arsenal side who were buoyed by their equaliser.

Suso, who was ironically booked for diving in the second half, flashed inches wide at the other end on a Milan break and Patrick Cutrone somehow fluffed his lines when Silva picked him out in the area and he shinned his volley past the post.

The visitors chances were definitively killed off with 20 minutes remaining thanks to a howler from Donnarumma, who completely misjudged what should have been a comfortable shot from Granit Xhaka and spilled it into the opposite corner.

A coup de grace was delivered in the final moments from the villain of the night when Welbeck scored his second by nodding in from a rebound to end the Rossoneri’s European adventure.