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Arsenal turned the form book upside down and gave manager Arsene Wenger much-needed respite with a shock 2-0 win away to AC Milan in the Europa League on Thursday.
The London side, who had lost their last four games in all competitions and were facing a Milan team unbeaten in 13 matches, stunned the San Siro with first-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey in the round of 16 first leg.
With Arsenal sixth in the Premier League and Milan seventh in Serie A, the match was played in very different circumstances to their last clash six years ago.
On that occasion, both teams were Champions League regulars and met in the round of 16 of Europe’s top club competition.
Arsenal went ahead after 15 minutes after Mesut Ozil found Mkhitaryan on the left side of the penalty area and the Armenian scored his first goal for the London club with a deflected shot.
Having re-found their confidence, Arsenal played some flowing football as they repeatedly caught Milan on the break, leaving the Serie A side’s coach Gennaro Gattuso red-faced with anger on the touchline.
Mkhitaryan rifled a shot against the crossbar before Ozil produced another inspired pass to send Ramsey clear and he rounded goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to add the second in the 45th minute.
Milan were more purposeful in the second half but Arsenal held out comfortably with a resilience missing from their recent performances.
“We were not in a position to take risks, but we could not be too cautious as you lose fluidity,” Wenger said. “We defended with resilience until the end.”
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