Arsenal simply did not show up at any point in this contest. It made a series of mistakes over the course of 90 minutes, and the Italians capitalized on them all.
Robinho, Ibrahimovic and Boateng did all the attacking, while the other eight teammates stayed compact and focused in the defense. It all went according to manager Massimo Allegri's plan.
Arsenal never posed Milan any danger, and paid the price. It is well known that the Gunners are vulnerable when they are not able to control the ball, and this game proved it. Without the balll, Arsenal could only do what it does worst — defend. It was only a matter of time before Milan found the opening, and it was always going to end this way.
Arsenal needs nothing less than a miracle in the second game of this series, or it is out of the UEFA Champions League.
That's all for now and thanks for joining us. Let's discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.
87th minute, 4-0 AC Milan: Well Arsenal has finally come alive, and decides to apply some attacking pressure.
The last three or four minutes have seen the Gunners pin Milan back, but a four-goal cushion has been known to make an opponent ease off the gas pedal.
84th minute, 4-0 AC Milan: Robinho's day is through, as Pato comes on to replace him.
78th minute, 4-0 AC Milan: The Swedish striker buries the penalty kick — and Arsenal's hopes for advancement — to the Szcezny's right.
78th minute, 3-0 AC Milan: Ibrahimovic wins a penalty for Milan. He bamboozles Djourou in the box, and the Arsenal defender takes him down.
76th minute, 3-0 AC Milan: For as bad as Arsenal has been throughout this contest, it is the next goal that will be decisive in the series.
If the Gunners score (and the game ends 3-1), they can take the field in the second leg with hopes of advancing to the next round. A 2-0 win, which is not out of the question, would be enough to make it happen.
70th minute, 3-0 AC Milan: Prince (Boateng) comes off with Ambrosini taking his place. That was some goal he scored. He wasn't even looking before he hit it.
66th minute, 3-0 AC Milan: Van Persie tests Abbiati for the first time.
Song found Henry at the top of the area. The departing veteran flicked it toward van Persie, who powered a volley low and toward the far corner.
Abbiati made the diving save with his out-stretched hand.
59th minute, 3-0 AC Milan: Here's some friendly advice for Arsenal from an LFC fan (via Twitter):
@PGJMatthews: Don't worry Arsenal, we were 3-0 down against Milan with a Polish keeper, a lighweight Czech midfielder, and a crap squad and it ended ok.
49th minute, 3-0 AC Milan: Well, so much for whatever Wenger told his group at halftime. Robinho puts Milan ahead by three.
Ibrahimovic held possession near the top of the area, and innocently laid it off to Robinho.
Vermaelen slipped after the pass, opening up a shooting lane. Robinho took the opportunity and drilled it low past the Arsenal goalkeeper.
46th minute, 2-0 AC Milan: Henry comes into the game looking to give Arsenal one last moment of magic.
The 34-year-old comes on for the invisible Walcott.
Halftime, 2-0 AC Milan: It's joy for Milan, and pain for Arsenal. The home team takes a two-goal lead into the break, while the visitors search for answers.
The Gunners were simply absent from the first half of proceedings. They could neither hold, nor pass the ball. Predictably they did not trouble the Milan defense in the first half.
Milan was not outstanding either, but it capitalized on Arsenal's mistakes and took the chances it was given. The Italians sat back in a compact shape, waited for the Gunners to push their defensive line forward, and countered with speed and precision.
This round-of-16 series has three halves left in it. If Milan has another one like the last, it can book its place in the quarterfinals.
45 minute (plus one), 2-0 AC Milan: Milan gets behind the Arsenal defense again, and nearly takes a three-goal lead.
Boateng received a pass near the spot from which he scored, hit it hard, but could not direct it on target.
44th minute, 2-0 AC Milan: It gets worse for the Gunners. Koscielny is forced to limp off. He is being replaced by Djourou.
38th minute, 2-0 AC Milan:They say Milan can't beat English teams, but it looks like that will soon change.
Robinho gives the Italians a 2-0 lead. Ibrahimovic beat the offside trap on the left, carried it into the area and centered to the Brazilian.
All Robinho had to do was direct his header on target and he did just that.
36th minute, 1-0 AC Milan: Arsenal is playing with fire late in the first half. Vermaelen was stripped of possession by Robinho, but Koscielny was able to interrupt the attack. If he slotted it to his left, Ibrahimovic would have certainly made it 2-0.
29th minute, 1-0 AC Milan: There are two games taking place at the moment.
The game in the middle channel of the field is being played with European quality and tempo.
When the ball goes wide, it bounces when it should roll, and players are content with hoofing it forward so as not to make a mistake.
22nd minute, 1-0 AC Milan: AC Milan is doing what many expected Arsenal would do. It remains compact, keeping 10 men behind the ball.
When it regains possession it bursts forward in numbers, catching Arsenal with too many men up-field.
16th minute, 1-0 AC Milan: Boateng scores with a sublime half volley to give the home team the early lead.
Running into the Arsenal box, he controlled a pass with his chest, let it bounce once, and fired it past the lunging Szczesny.
Milan was taking control of the game in the last few minutes, and it now has a goal to show for that advantage.
13th minute, 0-0: Ibrahimovic took a pass in the area and knocked it down to Emanuelson. The substitute pulls his first-time shot wide, but Milan has Arsenal pinned back.
12th minute, 0-0: Seedorf tried, but he has to come off. Emanuelson comes on for his 35-year-old compatriot.
10th minute, 0-0: But the ageless Dutch wonder is back on his feet. It looks like he can continue.
Ninth minute, 0-0: Emanuelson is warming up and looks set to come on soon. It looks like Seedorf is the one who is down on the sidelines.
Second minute, 0-0: Just as we thought, the ball is moving much slower in those wide areas, but that didn't stop Rosicky from testing Abbiati from distance.
His shot went wide, but it was a lively start.
Pregame: The big news is the state of the field at the San Siro. The turf in the wide areas was re-laid last week and it looks like it. There are two streaks of dark grass on each side of the middle of the field. It will certainly affect the players' footing and the way the ball rolls.
2 p.m.: Here are the lineups
Wojciech Szczesny (13), goalkeeper
Bacary Sagna (3), right back
Thomas Vermaelen (5), center back
Laurent Koscielny (6), center back
Kieran Gibbs (28), left back
Alex Song (17), midfielder
Mikel Arteta (8), midfielder
Aaron Ramsey (16), midfielder
Tomas Rosicky (7), midfielder
Theo Walcott (14), forward
Robin van Persie (10), striker
Lukasz Fabianski (21), goalkeeper
Johan Djourou (20), defender
Francis Coquelin (39), midfielder
Yossi Benayoun (30), midfielder
Andrey Arshavin (23), forward
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (15), forward
Thierry Henry (12), striker
Christian Abbiati (32), goalkeeper
Ignazio Abate (20), right back
Thiago Silva (33), center back
Philippe Mexes (5), center back
Luca Antonini (77), left back
Mark van Bommel (4), midfielder
Clarence Seedorf (10), midfielder
Antonio Nocerino (22), midfielder
Kevin-Prince Boateng (27), midfielder
Robinho (70), striker
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11), striker
Marco Amelia (1), goalkeeper
Alessandro Nesta (13), defender
Daniele Bonera (25), defender
Massimo Ambrosini (23), midfielder
Urby Emanuelson (28), midfielder
Stephan El Shaarawy (92), stiker
Alexandre Pato (7), striker
1:30 p.m. ET: As part of our commitment to covering the beautiful game, NESN.com will add a new layer to its soccer coverage. Wednesday's UEFA Champions League game between Arsenal and AC Milan pits two giants of European soccer against one another, and we have the action right here.
The Gunners return to the site of one of their great triumphs of recent years. In 2008, Arsene Wenger's group conquered the San Siro with a 2-0 win for the ages. But times have changed. Goal scorers Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor have moved on to greener pastures, and a new Arsenal will take the field Wednesday.
Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen and Alex Song will lead the Gunners into the knockout phase of this year's tournament. Club legend Thierry Henry will sign off on his Arsenal career — for the second time — at the same time Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain announces his arrival at one of soccer's most historic venues.
Defending Serie A champion, AC Milan is locked in a struggle with Juventus for Italian soccer supremacy. It leads Serie A by two points, but Juventus has played two fewer league games. It is also involved in a Copa Italia semifinal series with (you guessed it) Juventus. But big clubs like Milan can shift focus with ease, and Champions League glory is always one of the Italians' annual targets.
All eyes will be on striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as he looks to shed the "big game flop" tag he has (perhaps unfairly) carried with him for a number of years. The Swedish striker was sent off for slapping an opponent in Milan's scoreless draw with Napoli on Feb. 5. While serving a three-game league ban for the incident, he lashed out at another opponent during Milan's Copa Italia loss to Juventus last Wednesday.
The Champions League meeting between Arsenal and Milan should make for a thrilling encounter. Join us at 2:45 p.m., as we'll have all the action right here.
Photo via Flickr/Ronnie Macdonald
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