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Granit Xhaka, Danny Welbeck star as Arsenal advance past AC Milan

Danny Welbeck hadn't scored a European goal for Arsenal since bagging a hat trick in 2014 against Galatasaray, but the striker ended that drought with two against AC Milan as the Gunners ran out 3-1 winners on the night and secured a place in the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

The first was a touch contentious as the England international looked to make the most of minimal contact in the box, going down for a penalty which he stepped up to convert himself. The penalty decision came just two minutes after Hakan Calhanoglu had given the visitors the lead and hope of a comeback with a shot from distance which found David Ospina wanting.

The quick response helped calm the nerves, although Gennaro Gattuso's side had good chances to score in the second period but fluffed their lines repeatedly.

It meant that when Granit Xhaka scored in the 71st minute, the tie was won, and a late Welbeck header from close range, after an Aaron Ramsey effort had been saved, gave Arsenal a 5-1 aggregate win over the Italian giants. A convincing scoreline by any standards.


Qualification! Arsenal had lost their last six European knock-out ties at home so this is a step forward. Welbeck getting back on the scoresheet will do him some good after a difficult period, especially with his importance in Europe due to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's ineligibility.


Laurent Koscielny went off after just 11 minutes with what appeared to be a back injury, and that would be a blow if he were to miss any sustained period of time.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Over the course of the two legs Arsenal scored five times, conceded just once, and were more than deserved qualifiers for the next round. Some of that credit must go to Arsene Wenger.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK David Ospina, 6 -- Slow to react to Calhanoglu's shot, as he didn't move his feet quickly enough. Conceding first in games like this can often be crucial but he was saved somewhat by Arsenal's quick reply.

DF Hector Bellerin, 7 -- Back in after a couple of games out with a knee injury, he was solid enough down the right but Milan had little to offer on that side anyway.

DF Shkodran Mustafi, 7 -- He appeared to do well but a couple of times his inability to read crosses from deep was exposed and Milan had good headed chances.

DF Laurent Koscielny, NR -- Was only on for 10+ minutes so impossible to rate

DF Nacho Monreal, 7 -- Picked up a booking and looked a bit rusty in the first half, however, he grew into the game.

MF Granit Xhaka, 9 -- Scored a goal and the defensive focus that has been apparent over the last couple of games was there again tonight. Made more passes than any other player, completing 94 percent of them and Arsenal fans will be hoping he's turned a corner in terms of his form.

Granit Xhaka strikes one from range against AC Milan.
Granit Xhaka was Arsenal's best player on the day and has been noticeably improved defensively of late.

MF Aaron Ramsey, 8 -- Industrious and hard-working, both defensively and offensively. He's due to undergo a minor procedure during the international break, and Arsenal have to hope there are no complications because he really adds something to the team.

MF Mesut Ozil, 7 -- Looked less than impressed to be taken off, but his work was done in the first leg with two assists.

MF Jack Wilshere, 7 -- His most solid game in possession for some time, he controlled the ball well even when under pressure and remained aware of his defensive duties.

MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 7 -- Not quite as sharp as he was in the first leg. Replaced by Mohamed Elneny as Arsene Wenger looked to shore things up.

FW Danny Welbeck, 8 -- He'll be criticised by everyone but Arsenal fans for how easily he went down to win the penalty, but he converted it well and was on the spot to grab a second late on. A lively performance all round.


DF Calum Chambers, 7 -- Came on for Koscielny in the early stages of the game and had an assured performance.

MF Mohamed Elneny, 6 -- Added solidity in possession for the final 20 minutes.

DF Sead Kolasinac, NR -- Brought on for Ozil but at that stage the game was well and truly won.

Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.


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