AC Milan demolish Arsenal 4-0 at the San Siro to almost guarantee place in last eight
Zenit St Petersburg beat Benfica 3-2 in first leg of last 16 encounter
Juventus drop points on the road in Serie A to stay in second behind AC Milan
AC Milan are all but through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League after thrashing Arsenal 4-0 at the San Siro on Wednesday.
Brazilian striker Robinho scored twice as the Serie A champions dominated the first leg of the last-16 tie with the north London club.
Kevin Prince Boateng put Milan ahead in the 15th minute with a sumptuous half-volley after chesting down a chipped pass from Alberto Nocerino.
The Ghana midfielder’s strike flew in off the underside of the bar leaving Wojciech Szczesny with no chance.
Robinho doubled the lead seven minutes before the break heading home a cut-back from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Despite the arrival of Thierry Henry in the second half (his last appearance for the Gunners before he returns to the New York Red Bulls) things quickly went from bad to worse.
In the 49th minute, Ibrahimovic and Robinho combined again on the edge of Arsenal’s penalty area before a slip by Thomas Vermaelen gifted the Brazilian a free shot which he put past Szczesny with ease.
Robine Van Persie forced a fine save from Christian Abbiati in the 65th minute but it was a rare chance for the Dutch striker on a miserable night for Arsene Wenger’s team.
Ibrahimovic completed the rout converting from the penalty spot after he was brought down by Johan Djourou 12 minutes from the end.
“We were never in the game, we were very poor both offensively and defensively,” Wenger said, AFP reported.
“It was shocking to see how we were beaten everywhere, it was the worst performance in Europe by far. There was not one moment during the 90 when we were really in the game,” he added, AFP reported.
The return leg at the Emirates Stadium will be played on March 6.
In the other Champions League match played Wednesday, Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg came from behind to beat Portugal’s Benfica 3-2 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Roman Shirokov scored twice while substitute Sergei Semak got the other.
Benfica’s goals came from defender Maxi Pereira and Paraguayan striker Oscar Cardozo, both after errors by goalkeeper Yury Zhevnov.
Benfica took the lead in the 20th minute courtesy of a goal from Maxi Pereira before Zenit leveled the scores seven minutes later when Shirokov struck a sweet volley to score his first of the night.
Semak put Zenit in front in the 71st minute before Oscar Cardozo equalized three minutes from the end.
But Zenit responded immediately as Shirokov pounced on a defensive mistake to tap home the winner with two minutes remaining.
“My players showed really good skill. They showed a lot of heart to win the match in such a grave situation. However they did exactly what we decided to do ahead of the match. We won deservedly tonight,” Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti said, AFP reported.
Meanwhile in Serie A, Juventus missed out on the chance to go top after being held to a 0-0 draw at Parma.
Juve’s 10th draw of the league season (and their sixth on the road) means that AC Milan still head the league table but only by one point. The Rossoneri have also played one extra game.
The result lifts Parma to 12th place with 28 points.
In Serie A’s other match Wednesday Guido Marilungo scored the winner for Atalanta in a 1-0 win over Genoa.
The strike 12 minutes from the end lifts Atalanta to 13th with 27 points. Genoa remain in 10th with 30 points.