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March 28, 2023

Champions League: Arsenal silenced by Milan fire power

AC Milan made a giant leap towards a first UEFA Champions League quarter-final appearance since 2007 after completing an imperious four-goal victory (4-0) against Arsenal FC at San Siro on Wednesday, according to uefa.com.

A spectacular Kevin-Prince Boateng volley, strikes either side of the interval by Robinho and a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty condemned Arsene Wenger’s side to their heaviest ever European defeat. The Gunners require five goals when the sides reconvene in three weeks’ time in London if they are revive their remote prospects in this competition – even less likely on the evidence of this evening, they cannot afford to concede.

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager told uefa.com: “Statistically it is too big a deficit to turn over – we will certainly try but it will be very difficult. We will give it our best and we certainly cannot be worse than we were tonight.”

Massimiliano Allegri, Milan coach said in his turn: “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. (…) It was important for us to recover, because we have had lots of injuries recently and have had to find the spirit again which we showed tonight.”

In the other game of the night, two goals from Roman Shirokov, the second two minutes from time, helped FC Zenit St Petersburg to a narrow victory (3-2) against SL Benfica although the Portuguese side remain in contention for a UEFA Champions League quarter-final place thanks to two away goals.

It was Benfica who struck the first blow of an entertaining contest, an opportunist Maxi Pereira strike putting them in front with 20 minutes gone. Shirokov’s fine volley swiftly levelled matters and substitute Sergei Semak rounded off a fine move midway through the second half to turn the contest in Zenit’s favour. Oscar Cardozo looked to have given Benfica a valuable draw late on, but within 60 seconds Shirokov had capitalised on defensive uncertainty to set up a pulsating second leg on 6 March. Luciano Spalletti, Zenit coach told uefa.com: “That was a nervous match, a very emotional and passionate game. My players won this with their hearts, although they showed a lot of quality as well. We underestimate our level of performance sometimes and that helps our opponents”.

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