Champions League

Milan holds off Arsenal

2012-03-07 07:09
Robin van Persie (AP)

London - Milan narrowly avoided the greatest turnaround in Champions League history on Tuesday, reaching the quarterfinals despite a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Arsenal.

The English club was rated a 33-1 shot by bookmakers to advance after losing the first leg 4-0 but closed to within one score of the seven-time champions before halftime through Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie.

Both goalkeepers made crucial second-half stops to keep the score 3-0, and Milan tightened up to progress 4-3 over two matches and narrowly avoid another embarrassing turnaround in the Champions League.

"I really don't understand what happened in the first half," Milan defender Philippe Mexes said. "The approach was wrong and hopefully it won't happen again. We played better in the second half, with less fear, and fortunately we managed to qualify."

Milan was on the receiving end of the biggest comeback in Champions League history when it surrendered a 4-1 advantage to Deportivo La Coruna by losing the second leg of a 2004 quarterfinal 4-0. It also suffered the biggest turnaround in a Champions League final by giving up a 3-0 halftime lead over Liverpool.

Liverpool fought back to 3-3 and won the 2005 title in a shootout.

Benfica also advanced on Tuesday, beating Zenit St. Petersburg 2-0 to overhaul a 3-2 first-leg deficit and go through 4-3 on aggregate.

Maxi Pereira put Benfica ahead on away goals in first-half injury time and Nelson Oliveira made the game safe in second-half injury time.

Koscielny gave Arsenal hope in the seventh minute, heading in totally unmarked from a corner kick. Milan's shaky defense allowed Rosicky a similar amount of space 19 minutes later, failing to clear the ball to allow the Czech Republic international to pass it into the net from just inside the area.

Alex Oxade-Chamberlain won a 43rd-minute penalty when he sprinted between Djamel Mesbah and Antonio Nocerino, tumbling to the ground in the top corner of the area after clipping Mesbah's heels.

Van Persie dispatched the resulting kick into the top right corner for 3-0 at halftime and almost drew Arsenal level on aggregate in the 59th, putting a rebound shot straight at Christian Abbiati after the goalkeeper had blocked Gervinho's deflected attempt.

Arsenal's hunt for a fourth goal to level the scores began to leave space after halftime, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic shot just wide from long range after intercepting a loose pass from goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Szczesny atoned for his mistake with a point-blank stop with his boot after Nocerino had shot from Alberto Aquilani's pass.

"We have paid the price for a bad first game," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "But we have given everything. That is all you can do at the top level."

Portuguese side Benfica advanced to the last eight for the first time in six years as Russian champion Zenit tried to cling to its slim advantage and made little impression at Lisbon's Stadium of Light.

Pereira drove in from Axel Witsel's back-heeled pass and substitute Oliveira rounded off a counterattack.

"In the first half we had to clamp them down, and we did," Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said. "In the second half, we had to draw them out to get some space on the break, and we did that too."

Defending champion Barcelona tries to protect a 3-1 lead against visiting Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, when Lyon goes to surprise qualifier APOEL.

Read more on:    champions league  |  robin van persie
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
18 October 2016
CSKA Moscow v Monaco, Arena CSKA 20:45
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Tottenham Hotspur, BayArena 20:45
Sporting Lisbon v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Jose Alvalade 20:45
Club Brugge v FC Porto, Jan Breydelstadion 20:45
Leicester City v FC København, King Power Stadium 20:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Sevilla, Maksimir 20:45
Lyon v Juventus, Parc OL 20:45
Real Madrid v Legia Warsaw, Santiago Bernabeu 20:45
19 October 2016
FC Bayern München v PSV, Allianz Arena 20:45
Barcelona v Manchester City, Camp Nou 20:45
Celtic v Borussia Mönchengladbach, Celtic Park 20:45
Arsenal v Ludogorets Razgrad, Emirates Stadium 20:45
Dynamo Kyiv v Benfica, Kiev Olympic Stadium 20:45
FC Rostov v Atlético de Madrid, Olimp-2 Stadium 20:45
Paris Saint-Germain v FC Basel, Parc des Princes 20:45
Napoli v Besiktas, San Paolo 20:45
01 November 2016
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Celtic, Borussia-Park 21:45
Benfica v Dynamo Kyiv, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester City v Barcelona, Etihad Stadium 21:45
PSV v FC Bayern München, Philips Stadion 21:45
FC Basel v Paris Saint-Germain, St Jakob-Park 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v Arsenal, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v FC Rostov, Vicente Calderon 21:45
Besiktas v Napoli, Vodafone Arena 21:45
02 November 2016
FC Porto v Club Brugge, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Juventus v Lyon, Juventus Stadium 21:45
FC København v Leicester City, Parken Stadion 21:45
Legia Warsaw v Real Madrid, Pepsi Arena 21:45
Sevilla v Dinamo Zagreb, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Sporting Lisbon, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v CSKA Moscow, Stade Louis II 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Wembley 21:45
22 November 2016
CSKA Moscow v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Arena CSKA 19:00
Sporting Lisbon v Real Madrid, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Leicester City v Club Brugge, King Power Stadium 21:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Lyon, Maksimir 21:45
FC København v FC Porto, Parken Stadion 21:45
Sevilla v Juventus, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Legia Warsaw, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v Tottenham Hotspur, Stade Louis II 21:45
23 November 2016
FC Rostov v FC Bayern München, Olimp-2 Stadium 19:00
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Manchester City, Borussia-Park 21:45
Celtic v Barcelona, Celtic Park 21:45
Arsenal v Paris Saint-Germain, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Napoli v Dynamo Kyiv, San Paolo 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v FC Basel, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v PSV, Vicente Calderon 21:45
Besiktas v Benfica, Vodafone Arena 21:45
Logs
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Who will be the 2015/16 Champions League top scorer?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

Big month in the world of golf as the FedEx Cup concludes on the PGA Tour, the Race to Dubai gathers steam on the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour offers local golfers the chance to bank some cash. Oh, and not forgetting the USA v Europe Ryder Cup showdown at Hazeltine!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.