Europa League: Welbeck hits double as Arsenal dive into the last eight
Milan furious after the England striker’s theatrics win a controversial penalty
Arsenal 3 AC Milan 1 (Arsenal win 5-1 on aggregate)
Two goals from Danny Welbeck capped a great day for the Gunner as he helped his side ease into the last eight of the Europa League.
Given their 2-0 win last week in the San Siro, Arsenal were always in the driving seat of their last-16 tie against the Italian side, but there were an uncomfortable few minutes in the first half after Hakan Calhanoglu put the visitors in front.
Their lead lasted barely five minutes – just the time it took Welbeck to trick the officials with a dive in the AC Milan penalty area.
The Arsenal striker, who has been called into the England squad for this month’s friendlies against Holland and Italy, produced his theatrics right in front of the official standing behind the goalline. The official didn’t spot that the only contact between Welbeck and Ricardo Rodriguez was a slight brush of the shoulder.
Milan were furious, still remonstrating with the referee after Welbeck had coolly put the penalty in the back of their net. The Italians never recovered their composure. After the break they conceded two more goals, the first to Granit Xhaka, the second to Welbeck, who made it 3-1 on the night with a header four minutes from the end.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee,” said Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso. “He [Welbeck] is a striker. He has to do what he does, but we can’t use that as [the] entire influence of English football… there is a great deal of fair play in English football. I’m not going to judge.”
Gattuso appeared more angry with the way his players threw in the towel in the second half, commenting: “I’m very upset because in a few years’ time we’re only going to see 3-1 as the result. When you’re on the pitch, you should never give up and concede easy goals. The third goal really upset me.”
Wenger, who’s been critical in recent weeks of English players diving, was asked if he thought his side should have had a penalty.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I will watch it again and give you my honest feeling about it. I will give him my honest feeling as well, don’t worry.”
The victory – Arsenal’s third in a week – is further evidence that the Gunners are slowly rebuilding after a nightmare start to the year in which they won just four out of 14 matches.
In the Europa League last-eight draw Arsenal will face CSKA Moscow. RB Leipzig will play Marseille, Atletico Madrid will face Sporting Lisbon and Lazio will take on RB Salzburg in the other ties.