Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Arsenal 2-0 Milan

What an amazing match. If you missed it, borrow it from someone who taped it or something. Absolutely a feast of football. I don't know if I've ever enjoyed a match so bloody much. But anyways, on to the match report.

The lineup we started with is one that I had guessed for the most part. It looked like this:


So we went with the old Champion's League 4-5-1 and it didn't look like it was working out well in the opening twenty minutes. Milan had several good chances. Pato had one that he should have put in probably but Almunia saved well and Pato never really looked dangerous the rest of the night. Kaka was in the game in the opening stages but after that our defense had him completely under wraps. Milan definitely had us pushed back though early on and it looked like they could maybe finish it quickly. Remember last year at the San Siro against Man United they scored a few early on and it was over. But we made it past that stage without being scored upon and we slowly settled into our rhythm.

Diaby had a good chance when Adebayor held the ball up while being surrounded by three defenders and squared for Diaby who shot it one time and it curled just the wrong side of the post. Adebayor had the next chance when he really made something out of nothing on the edge of the box and curled in a screamer that just went over the bar. Then Cesc was next up to the plate, making a run down the middle and unleashing from outside the box and it hit the crossbar. We had a couple other minor chances in the first half and the match was still action packed but it was another half of this tie without a goal. 0-0 at the half.

There was one moment in the first half that was absolutely shocking by the referee. Hleb made a nice run into the box and Nesta came from behind and clearly tripped him. You could see the contact and it may have even been a penalty, but amazingly the ref comes over and gives Hleb a yellow card! Absolutely shocking. I hope that ref gets suspended for his performance tonight. It was terrible.

The start of the second half came and you knew there was going to be a goal in it. The question was whether we'd keep up the pressure or would Milan switch it up and get the goal on a counter-attack. That was answered pretty quickly as we came out firing in the second half as well. In the 48th minute we got a corner that was sent in from Fabregas and fell perfectly to Senderos (who had a great game I thought) who hit it on the half volley but right at Kalac. three minutes later a perfect pass found Eboue unmarked inside the area but his shot went horribly wide somehow. Pirlo then had a chance for Milan on a free kick aimed at the bottom corner but Almunia parried it.

In the 70th minute Walcott came on for Eboue. I had been hoping to see RvP come on for Eboue or Diaby but Walcott came on and I'm certainly thankful now that he did. Just a bit after he came on he got some space on the edge of the box and I thought he would have easily scored if he had shot but he tried to square for Adebayor and it was well blocked. A good chance wasted there and I was beginning to think it'd be like a fortnight ago, much better play overall but no goals to show for it.

But the goal finally came in the 84th minute. Cesc Fabregas picked up the ball and stepped around Gattuso and unleashed a shot from at least thirty yards that I really though had no chance of going in. It curved to the left corner of the box, bounced twice and somehow went into the back of the net. I haven't screamed so much in my life. 1-0 to the Arsenal with an away goal. I was absolutely bonkers at this point. All the stress I had felt the whole two legs was gone and I was sure we were through.

Milan never looked like scoring again and we put the finishing touches on it in extra time. Walcott sprinted past the defender onto a long ball, got fouled but it wasn't called, managed to turn inside and crossed beautifully for Adebayor who put it in quite nicely. Wonderful play from Walcott and a typically classy finish from Ade.

The whistle blew a minute later and it was official. 2-0 to the Arsenal and we are through!

I taped the match so I can watch it over and over again. In fact, I think I'm going to go watch it again tonight. So to wrap up.

Man of the Match: Oh it could be sooo many players as almost everyone was great tonight but I'll give it to Cesc Fabregas for his wonderful goal that really gave us the victory. What a goal.

Needs Work: I can't think of anything. Best night for Arsenal in a long time, and that's saying something with how well we've played much of the time this year.

Looking Ahead: So far Arsenal, Man United, Barcelona, and Fenerbache are through, and Liverpool look good as well after going up 2-0 in the first leg.

What a great day to be a Gooner!



Mike said...

Great match report! At first I was not sure Cesc's shot had gone in LOL After all the missed chances over two legs I was being extra cautious with my emotions. But what a goal!

One of my favorite days as an Arsenal supporter for sure.

Roone said...

Feel free to send a copy of the game. Somehow my DVR dropped it.