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


Read News24’s Comments Policy 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
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk
Most Read


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

'England can't afford me', jokes Gatland
Boot boys Biggar, Foley set for showdown
Wales seek to end woeful Wallaby run
De Allende's star burns bright
20 October 2015
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Roma, BayArena 20:45
BATE Borisov v Barcelona, Borisov Arena 20:45
Arsenal v FC Bayern Munchen, Emirates Stadium 20:45
FC Porto v Maccabi Tel Aviv, Estadio do Dragao 20:45
Dynamo Kyiv v Chelsea, Kiev Olympic Stadium 20:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Olympiakos, Maksimir 20:45
Valencia CF v KAA Gent, Mestalla 20:45
Zenit St Petersburg v Lyon, Petrovski Stadium 20:45
21 October 2015
CSKA Moscow v Manchester United, Arena Khimki 20:45
Manchester City v Sevilla, Etihad Stadium 20:45
Juventus v Borussia Monchengladbach, Juventus Stadium 20:45
Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid, Parc des Princes 20:45
Malmo FF v Shakhtar Donetsk, Swedbank Stadion 20:45
Galatasaray v Benfica, Turk Telekom Arena 20:45
Atletico de Madrid v FC Astana, Vicente Calderon 20:45
VfL Wolfsburg v PSV, Volkswagen Arena 20:45
03 November 2015
FC Astana v Atletico de Madrid, Astana Arena 17:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Malmo FF, Arena Lviv 21:45
Borussia Monchengladbach v Juventus, Borussia-Park 21:45
Benfica v Galatasaray, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester United v CSKA Moscow, Old Trafford 21:45
PSV v VfL Wolfsburg, Philips Stadion 21:45
Sevilla v Manchester City, Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain, Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
04 November 2015
FC Bayern Munchen v Arsenal, Allianz Arena 21:45
Maccabi Tel Aviv v FC Porto, Bloomfield Stadium 21:45
Barcelona v BATE Borisov, Camp Nou 21:45
Olympiakos v Dinamo Zagreb, Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium 21:45
KAA Gent v Valencia CF, Ghelamco Arena 21:45
Roma v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Olimpico 21:45
Lyon v Zenit St Petersburg, Stade de Gerland 21:45
Chelsea v Dynamo Kyiv, Stamford Bridge 21:45
24 November 2015
BATE Borisov v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borisov Arena 19:00
Zenit St Petersburg v Valencia CF, Petrovski Stadium 19:00
FC Bayern Munchen v Olympiakos, Allianz Arena 21:45
Maccabi Tel Aviv v Chelsea, Bloomfield Stadium 21:45
Barcelona v Roma, Camp Nou 21:45
Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb, Emirates Stadium 21:45
FC Porto v Dynamo Kyiv, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Lyon v KAA Gent, Stade de Gerland 21:45
25 November 2015
FC Astana v Benfica, Astana Arena 17:00
CSKA Moscow v VfL Wolfsburg, Arena Khimki 19:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid, Arena Lviv 21:45
Borussia Monchengladbach v Sevilla, Borussia-Park 21:45
Juventus v Manchester City, Juventus Stadium 21:45
Manchester United v PSV, Old Trafford 21:45
Malmo FF v Paris Saint-Germain, Swedbank Stadion 21:45
Atletico de Madrid v Galatasaray, Vicente Calderon 21:45
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

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

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


Take a photographical trip down memory lane and remind yourself of how the Springboks fared in their five previous Rugby World Cup campaigns. In addition, pick your all-time Springbok Rugby World Cup Dream Team and you could win R3 000!

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

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

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