Milan humiliate Gunners at San Siro

Milan 4 Arsenal 0

Arsenal's Champions League dreams were shattered by a humiliating 4-0 defeat to AC Milan in the first leg of their last 16 clash at the San Siro tonight.

Kevin-Prince Boateng fired the Italians ahead on 15 minutes with a sublime strike, before two goals by former Manchester City frontman Robinho and a penalty from the impressive Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the tie beyond the Gunners.

Arsenal never really settled and were punished for some careless possession - and not even the introduction of former captain Thierry Henry in the final game of his loan spell from New York Red Bulls could spark a fairytale comeback.

The heaviest European away defeat for Arsenal will be a bitter pill to swallow, but Arsene Wenger must lift his squad again for what is now a crucial FA Cup fifth-round tie at Sunderland on Saturday ahead of the Premier League derby with Tottenham - when the Gunners will look to keep alive hopes of qualifying again for the Champions League with a top-four finish.

Milan had not won any of their previous seven matches against English clubs, knocked out of the Champions League at this stage by Tottenham last season.

However, the Serie A leaders never looked in danger of a repeat tonight, well organised from kick-off as Arsenal struggled to get any sort of foothold, regardless of a poor San Siro pitch which had recently seen the turf relaid down the flanks.

Veteran Dutchman Clarence Seedorf - a European Cup winner with three different clubs - drilled a low effort into the side-netting, before going off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury - compatriot Urby Emanuelson replacing him.

Boateng fired the Italians ahead on the quarter-hour mark. The former Portsmouth and Tottenham midfielder collected a chip to the edge of the Arsenal penalty area on his chest, before turning to fire the ball over Wojciech Szczesny and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Van Persie's cut-back was blocked as the Gunners captain got clear down the left, before Laurent Koscielny's flicked header from a floated 25th minute free-kick was straight at Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati.

Arsenal, however, were soon again giving possession away far too easily, inviting the hosts on.

However, despite having plenty of the ball in the final third, AC Milan failed to carve out any real openings.

Thomas Vermaelen lost out to Robinho, who darted clear but then then failed to cross for Ibrahimovic - who was clear in the middle - as Koscielny made a saving block.

It was 2-0 in the 38th minute when Ibrahimovic charged down the left channel and squared for Robinho to nod in from six yards.

Two minutes before the break, Koscielny hobbled off and was replaced by Johan Djourou - and another change followed at the start of the second half as Theo Walcott was replaced by Henry.

However, before the World Cup winner had a chance to make an impact, Milan extended their lead.

Vermaelen slipped, which gave Robinho the space to shoot at the edge of the box, and the Brazilian - whose £32.5million transfer to City in 2008 shattered the British record fee - slammed home what looked to be a tie-clinching third goal in the 49th minute.

It was now a case of damage limitation for Arsenal - and it could have been worse but for a complete miskick by Luca Antonini when he was set free following another swift counter.

The value of an away goal, however, meant the tie would still be alive were the English side to fashion a meaningful opportunity of their own.

Abbiati produced a brilliant one-handed save to turn around van Persie's volley after a flick-on by Henry on 65 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Kieran Gibbs as Alex Song dropped into the back four.

However, any hopes of comeback were ended in the 78th minute when Djourou bundled over Ibrahimovic to concede a somewhat soft penalty, which the big Swede slotted into the bottom right corner, leaving Arsenal a mountain to climb in the return leg at Emirates Stadium on March 6.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate