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We’re going minute-by-minute for the second of tonight’s Champions League last 16 ties. It’s AC Milan v Arsenal, live from the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this evening’s action. E-mail niall@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal

Evening, all. Welcome to this evening’s Champions League liveblog. Tonight is one of those rare occasions when there’s no need for channel-hopping, multi-tweeting or anything of the sort. There’s just the one live game for us to concentrate on tonight, and that’s Arsenal’s trip to the Stade Giuseppe Meazza where they face AC Milan.

Kick-off is at 19:45, so let’s get this party started, shall we?

There is one rather important item on the agenda before we devote ourselves to Milan, and that’s the subzero proceedings in St Petersburg where Zenit hosted Benfica in today’s other last 16 tie.

That one’s already done, with Zenit winning 3-2. Oscar Cardozo looked to have grabbed a draw for Benfica when he equalised in the 87th minute but the Russians marched straight back down the other end for the winner, scored by Shirokov less than 60 seconds later.

Still though, two away goals to take back to Lisbon isn’t the worst outcome from a winter’s night in Russia. Just ask Napoleon.

But to Milan, and the team-news for tonight’s game. The Best Footballer in the World™ and Robinho start up front for Milan, with Kevin Prince-Boateng sitting in behind. Call it a 4-3-1-2, if you must.

AC Milan: Abbiati, Abate, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini, Seedorf, Van Bommel, Nocerino, Boateng, Ibrahimovic, Robinho.

And here’s Arsenal. Per Mertesacker injured himself at the sight of James McClean at the weekend, so he’s replaced by Kieran Gibbs in the centre of defence. Aaron Ramsey is preferred to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield. Your friend and mine, RVP, takes his place up front.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Song, Rosicky, Walcott, Ramsey, Arteta, van Persie.

If you missed it earlier, Ben Blake penned a nice little preview of tonight’s action earlier. Get it here while you’re waiting for kick-off.

Arsene Wenger brings his side to the San Siro for the first time since the historic 2-0 win at the same stage back in 2008. The goals that night came from Emmanuel Adebayor and Cesc Fabregas and while both have since moved on, Robin van Persie, who was an unused sub that night, will be expected to continue his exceptional run of form.

A lot has been made today of the fact that AC Milan are an “aging” team. For the record, there are three players aged 30 or older in their starting line-up tonight — Ibrahimovic, van Bommel and Seedorf.

Here’s a little taster of the mood over on Facebook tonight. For what it’s worth, I fancy Arsenal to nick something tonight — maybe a backs to the wall 1-0 win?

We’re a little bit late getting started here, not really helped by the fact that Seedorf and van Persie — the two captains — insisted on having a good 30 seconds of chit-chat before they allowed the referee to toss the coin.

Viktor Kassai is our man in the middle. Direct all abuse towards him.

We’re off and running now. Arsenal play from left to right in this first half.

While these two feel each other out in these opening few minutes, might I remind you that AC Milan are currently top of Serie A, a point clear of Juventus in second, though Antonio Conte’s men have a game in hand. After a pretty awful start to the season, Milan have only been beaten twice in the last 18 games, so they’re not exactly struggling.

Clarence Seedorf has the first real chance of the game, cutting back inside and taking the shot on with his right foot, but he can only find the side-netting. Szczesny had it covered anyway, I do believe.

Sloppy by Arteta, who’s dispossessed by Robinho just inside his own half. There isn’t much urgency to Milan’s build-up and they allow Arsenal to get numbers back before working it out wide to Abate, whose cross is deflected behind by Kieran Gibbs.

You’ve got to love Clarence Seedorf. A minute ago, he was flat on his back on the sideline, receiving treatment for what appeared to be a hamstring strain. He comes back on though, and the first thing he tries is a 50-yard Hollywood pass from one side of the pitch to the other. It doesn’t come off, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Unfortunately, it’s the last thought or action that Seedorf will be involved in this evening as that hamstring injury forces him off. Emanuelson comes on to replace him.

Milan carve out a half-chance and it falls to the substitute, Emanuelson, who very nearly scores with his first touch of the game. Boateng clips a ball into Ibrahimovic who cushions it back into a pocket about 10 yards out, but with five defenders around him, the shot is just wide.

GOAL! AC Milan 1-0 Arsenal (Boateng, 15′) Holy moly, that is some strike by Kevin Prince Boateng. The ball is played into him behind the back four, he takes it down on his chest and, without breaking stride or even looking to see where the goal is, rifles the ball over Szczesny’s head, off the underside of the bar and in.

Unbelievable tekkers.

My timeline is flooded with comparisons to another Rossoneri legend — Marco van Basten. It was a goal the Dutchman would have been proud of, brilliant technique.

And yes, I know, the Prince doesn’t do average goals.

A moment of hesitation by Thomas Vermaelen almost costs Arsenal. The Belgian tries to shield the ball back to Szczesny, but the keeper isn’t coming and Ibrahimovic gets a toe to the ball first, only to see Mr Kassai signal for a free out. Sighs of relief all round.

We’re just coming up on the half-hour mark, and Arsenal are really struggling to get a foothold in the game. Milan are controlling the pace and tempo, and when the visitors do get the ball, they’re not really able to create any sort of meaningful opportunity.

Nocerino tries to do a Marco van Basten (now also known as a Kevin Prince Boateng) at the back post, but he snatches at his volley and slices it horribly wide.

GOAL! AC Milan 2-0 Arsenal (Robinho, 38′) Well, you have to say, that has been coming. Milan double their lead, and it’s Robinho who takes the plaudits, heading home from seven yards out though. In truth though, this one is all about Ibra. He springs the offside trap out on the left wing and powers towards the byline. To the uninitiated, it looks like he may have taken too much out of it, but he clips back a perfect ball for Robinho whose header leaves Szczesny with no chance.

Arsenal are livid that there was no offside given there — I’m not sure myself, I haven’t seen the replays. But what’s done is done now, and the San Siro is absolutely hopping.

More injury woe for Arsenal as Koscielny signals to the bench that he can’t go on. It looks like Djourou will be on to replace him before the half is out. Surely Arsenal will just want to see it out to the break at this stage.

Oooooh, that was very nearly a third for AC Milan. Again, it’s Ibrahimovic who plays a brilliant ball off the outside of his right boot which finds Boateng in acres and acres of space. I’m not sure where Kieran Gibbs is, but he’s not where he’s supposed to be anyway. Rather than go across Szczesny, KPB goes to the near post, but he hammers his shot into the side-netting. A brilliant chance.

HALF TIME: AC Milan 2-0 Arsenal

Our last action of the half is another superb ball from Zlatan, who slips a pass through to Antonini. He slides for it, as he’s entitled to, and beats Szczesny but it bobbles wide.

Then, in an act of pure madness, referee Viktor Kassai decides that his challenge is worthy of a booking. Which it most definitely is not. Trust me.

I’m off to stick the kettle on, back in a bit. The e-mail address is niall@thescore.ie if you’re inclined to share your feelings. I’ll read them, don’t worry.

We’re just about ready to go again for the second half. One tiny piece of housekeeping — I saw the replay of Milan’s second goal and yes, Arsenal may have a point. It looks like Zlatan was marginally off when the ball was played to him and, at the same time, Robinho was about 10 yards off but wasn’t interfering with play at that particular moment. Ouch.

We’re back underway. Thierry Henry is on for Theo Walcott — can the King trump the Prince?

It’ll be interesting to see how Milan approach this half. You’re 2-0 up at home, and not working particularly hard for your lead. Do you push on for a third and try to wrap the tie up tonight? Or do you hold what you have?

GOAL! AC Milan 3-0 Arsenal (Robinho, 49′) Well, that’s my question answered pretty quickly. It looks like it’s goodnight for the Gunners as Robinho fires home Milan’s third from the edge of the box. It’s far, far too simple but the Brazilian’s task is made a lot easier by Thomas Vermaelen, who loses his footing at the crucial moment and can only look on helplessly from the deck as ‘Binho buries it past Szczesny.

This could turn into an absolute massacre unless Arsenal buck up their ideas quickly. They’re giving Milan far too much time on the ball and when the Italians break, they’re all over the shop in defence. Going forward, the word “ponderous” has been used once or twice tonight, and I have to say I agree. To put it simply, they’re poor tonight.

If — and it’s a pretty big if at the moment — Arsenal can nick an away goal and take a 3-1 defeat back to Highbury, all is not lost. But that’s really a best-case scenario at the moment. I’ve no doubt Arsene Wenger would bite your hand off for it.

Milan burst forward on the counter-attack and it’s the left-full Antonini who gets up quickest to support Robinho. He has a chance to get his shot off before Sagna gets across to put him under pressure, but doesn’t catch it cleanly and it bobbles harmlessly across the face of Szczesny’s goal and wide.

All aboard the showboat! Robinho is starting to enjoy himself; he sells Gibbs a beautiful step-over dummy and shows him a clean pair of heels as he heads towards goal. Credit to the youngster though, he doesn’t give up and gets his body back between Robinho and the goal to deny the Brazilian his hat-trick.

For the first time tonight, Arsenal look like a football team, and it takes a brilliant save from Abbiati to deny van Persie. Thierry Henry pulls a wonderful flick out of his bag of tricks and RVP’s first time volley has goal written all over it, until the keeper gets down to palm it around the post.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes on to replace Kieran Gibbs whom, I suspect, won’t exactly be devastated to get the hell out of dodge. He’s had a torrid time tonight.

That’s Arsenal’s third and final sub, Wenger’s last roll of the dice — will it make any difference though?

Kevin Prince Boateng makes way to a standing ovation from the San Siro crowd. He’ll be replaced by veteran midfielder Massimo Ambrosini for the final 20 minutes.

I’m not sure which of these four best sums up Arsenal’s night. Your thoughts please?

(AP Photo/Masimo Pinca)

Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

Antonio Calanni/AP/Press Association Images

PENALTY TO AC MILAN! Ibra goes down under Djourou’s challenge in the box, and this night might be about to get a lot worse for Arsenal. It’ll Ibra himself to take…

GOAL! AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal (Ibrahimovic pen, 79′) And he scores. Sczezny gets a hand to it, but he’s only strong enough to help it into the net. No more than Ibrahimovic deserves for his performance tonight, he’s been top class.

Arsenal should have a penalty of their own down the other end as Philippe Mexes gets too tight to van Persie, grabs a handful of his shirt and manhandles him to the ground. That’s a peno all day for me, but when it’s not your night…

Abbiati is called on to make another great save to keep van Persie out. This time, it’s a header from six or seven yards out which the striker directs into the ground, but Abbiati is able to get down quickly enough to turn it away.

Two minutes to play. For Arsenal, the end can’t come quickly enough.

There’ll be three minutes of injury time. Probably enough for Milan to get another two on the basis of what we’ve seen tonight.

FULL TIME: AC Milan 4-0 Arsenal

Pato has a chance to make it five with the final shot of the game, but he blems it straight at a grateful Szczesny. A bit late for charity now, lads.

John Giles: “That performance by Arsenal is a sacking performance for a manager.” Ouch.

Strong stuff from Gilesy there, but you have to admit that tonight is as poor as Arsenal have been in a long, long time. They just looked completely lacking in direction, ambition and morale. Far too many wayward passes; far too many lazy efforts at tackles and sloppy mistakes. Not good, not good at all.

To give Milan their due, they played like a team that is leading Serie A tonight. That attacking trio of Ibrahimovic, Robinho and The Prince was an absolute joy to behold at times. Zlatan reminded all of his critics that he is world class; Robinho showed that he is still capable of busting a lung to get into goal-scoring positions and take chances. Boateng? Well, he doesn’t score average goals, does he?

I’m guessing we won’t be hearing from M. Wenger for quite a while, so I think we’ll have to leave it there.

It looks like game over for Arsenal; according to @InfostradaSports, no side has ever managed to come back in the Champions League after losing the first leg 4-0 away from home. Ominous stuff.

We’ll be back bright and early in the morning with more reaction and analysis. See you then.

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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