Gunners oust holders

Arsenal defeat AC Milan at the San Siro as Manchester United down Lyon.

    Knock-out blow: Cesc Fabregas sends the Gunners
    into the last eight [AFP] 
    Arsenal duo Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor scored late goals to give the Gunners a 2-0 win over title holders AC Milan and a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals.

    It was the first time that Milan, the seven-time champions which had reached the quarterfinal stage for the past five seasons, had lost to an English team at San Siro.

    "It's good for such a young team to beat a team like Milan with so much quality,'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

    "It will be positive for the future and the rest of this season.

    "I have a big respect for Milan. It can happen that you lose at home. It happens to everyone.''

    Arsenal qualified 2-0 after the two teams drew 0-0 in the first leg in London two weeks ago.

    "There are no regrets,'' Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said.

    "There are regrets when you could have done more, but they didn't allow us to. Both sides did their best and we have to accept the loss and move on.''

    Milan president Silvio Berlusconi said Ancelotti would "absolutely'' remain the team's coach.

    Fabregas scored with a long bouncing shot from outside the area in the 84th minute that beat Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac.

    The ball may have deflected off the arm of Milan defender Alessandro Nesta.

    Adebayor added the second goal from close range in injury time after the ball was crossed into the box from the right flank.

    In its 11 previous home games against English teams, Milan had won seven and drawn four, including a 2-0 win over Arsenal in the 1994 UEFA Super Cup.

    "For us, it's just the beginning,'' Fabregas said.

    "Now we are in the quarterfinals. We haven't done anything. It's just one more step for the season. We will try to go on until the end but now focus again on the league which is very important.''

    Tactics pay off

    Wenger said his plan to use Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini to contain Kaka worked to perfection.

    "We decided not to give him time on the ball and it turned out that we decided well,'' Wenger said.

    Milan started the game at a high tempo, pressing in defense and creating several good chances inside the first 25 minutes.

    Alexandre Pato dribbled around three players in the eighth minute, but then shot over the crossbar.

    In the 19th, Kaka went on a long dribbling run before passing to Pato, who hit a soft shot straight to goalkeeper Manuel Alumnia.

    But Arsenal soon got back into the game. Adebayor's powerful shot in the 28th minute was tipped over the bar by Kalac, and Fabregas hit the bar from just outside the area six minutes later.

    Arsenal midfielder Aleksandr Hleb was cautioned in the 33rd minute for simulation just outside the area, although it appeared that he had been fouled from behind.

    Milan fielded an attack of Filippo Inzaghi and the 18-year-old Pato, with Kaka just behind the strikers after missing the last few league games with a knee injury.

    Alberto Gilardino came on in the 69th for Inzaghi, but was unable to spark the Milan attack.

    Cristiano Ronaldo, left, celebrates
    goal number 30 [AFP] 
    Ronaldo sparks United

    Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo was again the hero as he gave Manchester United a 1-0 win over Lyon and a spot in the quarterfinals 2-1 on aggregate.

    The Portugal international scored his 30th goal in all competitions in the 41st minute.

    That put him within two of matching George Best's club-record from 1967-68, when United went on to win its first European Cup.

    "It's fantastic for a wide player to do that,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said.

    "Obviously he drifts into the middle at times as he did tonight. He's done very well and made a good contribution.''

    Wes Brown crossed the ball to Anderson, whose shot from the edge of the area was blocked by a combination of Lyon right back Francois Clerc and Ronaldo.

    Clerc stumbled and went to ground, while Ronaldo regained possession and shot past Gregory Coupet.

    With the win, United equaled Juventus' Champions League record of 10 straight home wins.

    "It's marvelous ... the supporters have lot to do with that,'' Ferguson said.

    "And the pitch is getting better now.''

    Troubled star

    Karim Benzema, who has been upset at playing on the left, was restored to lead the front line from the center at Old Trafford.

    He troubled United defender Patrice Evra in the opening exchanges as Lyon searched for an away goal.

    Evra was booked in the fourth for a crunching challenge from behind on Benzema.

    Nemanja Vidic then denied the 20-year-old France striker, who had a penalty claim dismissed in the eighth.

    Ronaldo started United's response, rampaging down the right flank in the 10th, cutting inside Fabio Grosso until he was blocked from shooting by Cris.

    Darren Fletcher then attempted to find from the target from 25 meters (yards) in the 16th.

    While goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar knocked away Kim Kallstrom's fierce shot in the 29th, United put its authority on the first half.

    Lyon was menacing after the interval, with Juninho and Hatem Ben Arfa searching for the equalizer with long range shots.

    United was given a scare in the 74th when substitute Kader Keita, after exchanging passes with Benzema in the 74th, hit the near post, although Van der Sar had it well protected.

    "The pressing game that United played created a great danger. It was difficult to work the ball out of our own area into attacking positions,'' Lyon coach Alain Perrin said.

    "The success factor was missing, the final balls weren't successful and we weren't hitting the target enough.''

    Ben Arfa's wayward backpass at the other end was intercepted by Rooney and it took Coupet's block at point blank range to prevent United from doubling its lead.

    "We should have made more of the chances we had,'' Ferguson said. "We made it difficult for ourselves, but defensively we did well.''

    SOURCE: Agencies


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