AC Milan v Arsenal: A look back in time to the previous six meetings
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When Arsenal play AC Milan in the Europa League last 16 first-leg at the San Siro it will be the fourth time the Gunners have faced the Serie A giants in Italy and the seventh time in all so far. Read on to find out how they did in their previous meetings with the Rossoneri.
The first meeting between the sides came in February 1995 when the pair contested the then two-legged 1994 European Super Cup.
George Graham’s Arsenal were the reigning 1994 European Cup Winners Cup after the Miracle of Copenhagen when Alan Smith’s volley against Parma in the Danish capital clinched what is still the club’s second piece of Euro silverware.
They played out a 0-0 draw at Highbury against the European Cup holders Milan on February 1, 1995. The match was most notable for the return of Paul Merson from treatment for various addictions and he was warmly welcomed back by the home crowd.
The North Londoners famed back line including Lee Dixon, Steve Bould, Tony Adams and Nigel Winterburn came up against the equally legendary Rossoneri back four which contained Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta.
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The return leg at the imposing San Siro a week later on February 8, 1995 saw Fabio Capello’s Milan put on a master class, with George Graham describing them as ‘the best team in Europe’.
Dejan Savi?evi? and Marcel Desailly dictated the pace of the game from midfield with Zvonimir Boban – who was not named in the squad for the first-leg – opening the scoring just before half-time.
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Ian Wright thought he’d equalised in the second-half but his goal was disallowed for a foul in the build up.
With 20 minutes remaining, Daniele Massaro put the final nail in the Arsenal coffin when he headed home from a corner, winning the Super Cup for the Rossoneri.
There was a 13 year gap between the next clash, this time in the Champions League round of 16.
Again the first leg in North London was goalless before the travelling Gunners pulled off one of the greatest European results in their history by beating the holders 2-0 in Milan.
Milan’s star studded line-up included Balon d’Or holder Kaka, current Rossoneri boss Gennaro Gattuso and captain Paolo Maldini – the only survivor from the first meeting with Arsenal in front of a sell-out crowd of 81,879 on March 4, 2008.
Arsene Wenger including Cesc Fabregas, Eduardo and Aleksandr Hleb in the side.
A tight first-half was followed by a Gunners dominated second, with Emmanuel Adebayor missing chances to put Arsenal through.
Arsenal knew they would have to make history, by becoming the first-ever English side to beat Milan at the San Siro, to progress to the quarter-finals.
The game ebbed and flowed throughout as both sides created plenty of chances to score, with Fabregas coming closest when he rattle the crossbar with a powerful effort from the edge of the box.
The Spaniard was not to be denied though and with 84 minutes on the clock he stunned the Milan crowd into silence as around 7,000 travelling Arsneal fans high up in the gods at the majestic stadium celebrated wildly.
Bursting past two players in midfield, the future Gunners captain fired a low effort from all of 30 yards, finding the bottom corner.
As Milan pushed for the all important equaliser the away side wrapped up the game when substitute Theo Walcott broke free down the right, squaring the ball for Emmanuel Adebayor to tap home with just seconds left.
Arsenal had triumphed against all the odds, even if they were to cruelly lose to Liverpool at Anfield on a never-to-be-forgotten match which had the visitors through on away goals at 2-2 at Anfield with only minutes remaining before two late goals crushed North London dreams.
The next time Arsenal were to meet Milan was on February 15, 2012 when they were routed 4-0 in Italy in the Champions League round of 16.
When Kevin Prince-Boateng’s brilliant half-volley beat Wojciech Szcz?sny at his near post with just 16 minutes gone, Arsene Wenger’s side knew they were in for a long evening.
Robinho’s instinctive close range header with 38 minutes on the clock doubled the lead, and the diminutive Brazilian got his second and Milan’s third with low effort just after half-time.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic added a fourth from the penalty spot with 11 minutes left to play as the Rossoneri strolled to victory.
The game also marked Thierry Henry’s final ever appearance for Arsenal after he came on as a half-time substitute.
Incredibly Arsenal came so close to making history as they beat Milan 3-0 at the Emirates on March 6,
Wenger’s side knew they had to come out fighting if they were to have any chance of overturning the 4-0 first-leg deficit, and when Laurent Koscielny headed home a corner at the near post just seven minutes in, a faint glimmer of hope appeared.
That hope grew when Tomas Rosicky slotted home inside the penalty area with 26 minutes gone, leaving the Gunners with plenty of time to find the two goals needed to force extra-time.
Robin van Persie powered a penalty into the net after a foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain just minutes before half-time, filling the Emirates with hope that Arsenal could do the unthinkable and somehow progress.
The home side dominated Milan throughout the second-half but that all-important fourth goal remained illusive.
Just before the hour mark, the golden chance presented itself to van Persie.
Just six yards out, the Dutchman seemed certain to tap home a rebounded Gervinho shot but Christian Abbiati got a vital hand to the striker’s delicate chip meaning Wenger’s side failed to notch the all-important fourth goal and Milan squeezed through.
With the Gunners struggling ahead of Thursday evening’s clash with the mighty Milan many are fearful of a repeat of the 2012 thrashing – but can they repeat their heroics of 2008 and win through against the odds?
Only time will tell. One thing is for certain, the clash between these two giants of European and World football, is sure to make a hero of someone.