The match between Arsenal FC and AC Milan at the Emirates stadium in North London ended in a goalless draw making it evenly balanced as they face each other again at the San Siro in Milan in a fortnight’s time. Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger called this 1st round knock out round the “ultimate test” as his young team plays against the European Champions.
Zeljko Kalac showed his true class as he kept the clean sheet from the attacks engineered by the Gunners, although he must feel blessed as Adebayor’s header in the closing moments hit the top post. The introduction of Pato gave Milan a new dimension of attacking football. He was quick to be involved in the assault as he forced a corner in the 8th minute. Kolo Toure blocked the shot from Pato giving away a corner, but injuring himself in the process. The old boys Jens Lehmann, 38, and Paulo Maldini, 39, showed that there is still a lot to offer as Maldini’s header from the corner was on target before Lehmann springed to action to tip it away.
Even after the departure of Toure, Arsene Wenger pressed his side forward as they bombarded their attacks in the early stages. Despite plenty of possession the chances created were very few as the the ball stayed mostly near the midfield. Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gatusso kept Fabregas in check making Arsenal feel their presence through harsh tackles. In the early stages of the game, Fabregas played a through pass to the prolific young striker Adebayor who failed to work Kalac by shooting over the bar. Kalac’s first real save for Milan was when Flamini went for a low drive and he was quick to punch it away.
Flamini kept Kaka pretty quiet before he pressed forward and forced another save by Kalac and getting a reaction of cheers and whistles from the crowd. But just before that the greatest amount of went to Philippe Senderos as he blocked Pato who ran into the box with blazing speed and then a crunching challenge to stop Kaka.
Five minutes into the second half and another defender was injured. This time it was Alessandro Nesta for Milan, who was replaced by Marek Jankulovski. Kakha Kaladze gave Milan a horrific scare as he almost headed into his own net from a corner. Soon within a few more minutes to follow Emmanuel Eboue curled his effort just centimeters wide. The hosts were cut short of cheering for the first goal as Adebayor found the net just before he was ruled off-side.
Milan struggled to get out of their own half as Arsenal played their possessive football leaving Kaka and Pato completely isolated up front for Milan. Even after that they were threatening Arsenal with having his shot just wide on the 69th minute and Pato causing an adrenaline rush among the Gunners defenders with his efforts. The Hero of the game was Milan’s Goalkeeper Kalac, saving Fabregas’ low shot on the 75th minute and Adebayor’s last minute header hot the post and out.
[By: Shahnawaz Alam]