Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Ronaldo absent AC Milan, crash out of Champions League

Result: Arsenal 2- 0 AC Milan

Without Brazilian star striker in their squad, out with a serious knee injury, Milan failed to make it through to the quarter finals against Arsenal.

Milan's attack looked blunted and could not use their vast experience to force the issue in a the first half where Arsenal were the better of the two sides.

Milan open brightly enough, with Maldini's header at the near post only thwarted with Cesc Fabregas' goal-line clearance, but once Arsenal got into their stride, they created many good opportunities to score.

Adebayor and Fabregas, who had seen a lot of the ball in the first half looked increasingly likely to score with Fabregas hitting the top of the crossbar from a 20-yard drive.

In the second half, Almunia did well to turn over Pirlo's dipping free kick, although it was on the 70th minute, that Wenger made the bold move of bringing on Theo Walcott, that changed the tide of the match. Within four minutes he almost set up a goal, only for keeper Kalac to stretch out a leg and block his cross with a collection of Arsenal players waiting to pounce.

Arsenal almost paid the price for their lack of clinical finishing in front of goal, when with 12 minutes left, Alexandre Pato was only inches off target with an angled shot that took a deflection off Senderos.

Arsenal finally got the goal they deserved with six minutes left when Fabregas burst through centre of the pitch, with yard of space and sent a low shot into the corner past the despairing dive of Kalac - who was suprised the shot was hit as early as it was by Fabregas.

And a stunning performance got the final flourish it deserved when Walcott crossed perfectly for Adebayor to turn in at the far post.

With Milan out of the Champions league and their title hopes gone, they seem to have failed this season.

Although Ronaldo was not in the side that won the Champions League, it is his kind of instinct, pace and guile that could change the match and with Gilardino looking lost in the supporting striker role and Inzaghi well covered by Gallas, the Milan attack lackted the golden touch.

Good luck to Arsenal and all the other teams left in the tournament, it was a great match for the neutrals with chances at both ends - sadly though, Milan, Champions league title holders, are out of the tournament thanks to the brilliance of a rising star in Cesc Fabregas.

- The Ronaldo R9 Team

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