Arsenal won this evening's match against AC Milan at the Emirates in the Champions' League. But unfortunately, the Italians brought their four-goal advantage into this game and so our 3-0 win wasn't enough for us to go through.
The Gunners started with a real attacking intent as they had nothing to lose in this one. With no pressure on their shoulders whatsoever, they looked extremely dangerous from the very beginning.
After just seven minutes, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered a corner and Laurent Koscielny popped up to score the opening goal of the match. The French centre-back broke free from his marker and connected with a clean header that put us in the lead.
Just a couple of minutes after that, Theo Walcott broke down the right-hand side and sent in a cross for Robin van Persie, whose shot was saved by Abbiati. But the Londoners kept going at their opponents from all angles. This time Tomas Rosicky intercepted a shot and passed to van Persie, who cut it back to set up the Czech midfielder but he was a bit too far back to take a shot at the Milan goal.
Rosicky then slipped another pass for van Persie to score but he collided with Abbiati and the referee gave a free kick to Milan, which marked the end of that attacking move. Our Dutch maestro then again tried a shot but the Milan goalie was equal to it.
But we finally doubled our lead in the 26th minute when Theo Walcott put a cross in and although Thiago Silva was the first one to reach it, his clearance fell straight to Rosicky, who made no mistake in beating Abbiati this time. The score was now 2-0 to Arsenal and the whole Emirates Stadium was roaring with noise. The atmosphere at that time was just FANTASTIC!
A majority of our moves were being created at the right-hand side, where Milan's left-back Djamel Mesbah was struggling to cope with the pace and agility of Walcott.
Just four minutes before the half-time interval, Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought down inside the box by Mesbah and van Persie stepped up to score the resulting penalty kick. We were now just one goal behind from matching Milan's tally of the first leg.
In the final minute of the first-half, Milan could have scored their first of the night but Stephan El Shaarawy hit his shot wide because Wojciech Szczesny had already narrowed down the angle for him.
Arsenal went in at half-time hoping to come out in the second period with the same momentum that they had displayed in the opening 45 minutes. But unfortunately, they failed to replicate their outstanding form of the first half. The Gunners midfield looked tired and started losing the ball in the centre. Then Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up an injury and that affected the quality of our attacking play too.
Nonetheless, the home side had the chance of scoring the all-important fourth goal in the 48th minute when Gervinho broke down and although his shot was saved by Abbiati, the rebound fell into the path of van Persie. All our captain had to do was to tap the ball into the back of the net but his shot was somehow saved by the Italian keeper.
Then Milan stepped up a gear and they had several decent chances but weren't able to take any of them. Their first major attack came in the 59th minute when Antonio Nocerino's shot went over the bar. It was followed by two decent chances for Mesbah and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in two consecutive minutes but the first one was saved by Szczesny and the second one was off target.
In the 71st minute, Walcott once again broke free at the right and attempted a shot but Abbiati saved it easily. Arsene Wenger then took the injured Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the game and introduced Marouane Chamakh and also gave Park Chu-Young some game time. But in spite our team's best efforts, the fourth goal didn't come and we were knocked out of the competition.
But we have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, as our players did very well and made us proud with their fighting spirit. It's just a shame we didn't play that well in the first leg.
Our defence did quite well. The back four communicated with each other and worked hard for keeping the clean sheet.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was outstanding once again before his injury brought a premature end to his night. Van Persie and Rosicky were also brilliant and the team spirit looked absolutely sky high as well.
Just two weeks ago, Arsenal were beaten 4-0 by Milan and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Sunderland and everything had looked so bleak for us. But we have managed to shut out the negativity with some morale-boosting performances, so Well Done AFC!
So all the fans let's just get behind the team and support the boys just like we did this evening and hopefully we will beat Newcastle United at Emirates in our next game on March 12.