Wednesday's Uefa Champions League Review.
AC Milan crushed Arsenal in Italy with a comprehensive performance as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho shone, while Zenit St Petersburg edged Benfica in their clash.
AC Milan 4 (Boateng 15’, Robinho 38’, 49’, Ibrahimovic 79’ pen) def Arsenal 0
Italian champions AC Milan took a giant leap towards the quarter-finals with a 4-0 destruction of the Gunners at the San Siro. Kevin-Prince Boateng smashed in a fine opener to set the tone, before the outstanding Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up Robinho for the second before the break. The Brazilian, who has been out of sorts of late, added another to make it three, before Robin van Persie came close to getting a useful away goal. In the end, Ibrahimovic’s penalty sealed an emphatic and deserved result which leaves the Londoners with a mountain to climb. On this evidence, they won’t go close.
Milan boss Max Allegri said: “We played well as a team, creating a lot and stopping them in a really good way. It was important for us to recover, because we have had lots of injuries recently and we had to find the spirit again which we showed tonight. Now we must keep working to improve and leave behind the difficult period we experienced before our last two games. Arsenal have a lot of quality both as a team and individually, and if they didn’t show their class tonight all the credit goes to Milan.”
He added: “First of all, I wish to underline that we have not yet qualified. England is always a difficult place to play and we need to deliver another convincing display like tonight, but at the same time without thinking too much about the first leg.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: “Statistically it is too big a deficit to turn over, we certainly will try, but it will be very difficult. We will give it our best and we certainly cannot be worse than we were tonight. We left ourselves in a position where we had to chase the game from early on and we continued to lose the ball in positions where you cannot afford to lose it at this level and we left ourselves exposed. It was a big problem for us and we were slow to respond all evening.”
Zenit St Petersburg 3 (Shirokov 27’, 88’, Semak 71’) def Benfica 2 (Maxi Pereira 20’, Oscar Cardozo 87’)
Roman Shirokov was the star of the show as Zenit St Petersburg responded after conceding an early goal, and grabbed a winner after letting in a late equaliser. Maxi Pereira had swooped on 20 minutes to give the Portuguese side the lead after a fumble from Zenit keeper Yuri Zhevnov. Shirokov levelled the game with a cool finish, before veteran Sergei Semak produced a stunning backheel to put the Russians ahead. Oscar Cardozo would level after another Zhevnov spill, but Shirokov swooped for a late winner. The victory is a boost for Zenit, but Benfica won’t feel out of this tie at all, after two away goals.
Zenit boss Luciano Spalletti said: “We still have the second leg ahead of us. It’s almost impossible to secure an aggregate win and a place in the next round in a UEFA Champions League tie after the first match. We faced a similar situation before our away game against FC Porto and we went there and got the result. However, we could have avoided the two goals we conceded tonight.”
Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said: “Benfica were worthy [of a draw] and it was a pity we conceded the third goal. The tie is open and − at our stadium, with our supporters, we can go through. We have every chance of correcting this result at home.”
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