It was the second legs of the Europa League last 16 ties this Thursday, where teams fought for the chance to be in Friday’s quarter-final draw and a step closer to Lyon come May.
Two of those teams were Arsenal and AC Milan, who met in their return leg at the Emirates, following the Gunners’ 2-0 win at the San Siro. Milan needed goals to stand a chance of progressing, and they did begin on the front foot, Andre Silva firing a shot wide after 38 seconds.
Attempts on target were few and far between, and it was midway through the half when Arsenal, in the form of Danny Welbeck, finally tested Gianluigi Donnarumma in the Milan goal.
In the 34th minute, Milan would take the lead on the night through Hakan Calhanoglu. He unleashed a long-range piledriver that caught David Ospina off-guard.
Milan now needed just one more goal to level the tie, but they suffered a setback only four minutes after their goal. Welbeck was deemed to have been fouled by Ricardo Rodriguez in the box, even though replays showed otherwise. Welbeck converted the resulting penalty, and Arsenal restored their aggregate cushion, much to the ire of Milan gaffer Gennaro Gattuso. It ended 1-1 on the night at the break, but not before Donnarumma had to get down well to deny Jack Wilshere.
The chances would be few in the second half as well, much like the first, Milan making inroads as they sought a route back into the tie, but barely troubled the Gunners defence, and the game was up with less than 20 minutes into the second half, when Donnarumma spilled Granit Xhaka’s shot into his own net.
Welbeck added a third late on, heading home the rebound after the initial header from Aaron Ramsey was saved by Donnarumma, a comfortable 5-1 aggregate victory securing their passage to the last eight.
One team that wouldn’t be heading for the next round are Lyon, who succumbed at home to CSKA Moscow. CSKA had a one-nil deficit from the first leg in Russia, but took the lead in the 41st minute, through Aleksandr Golovin. Lyon replied in the second half via Maxwell Cornet, but goals from Ahmed Musa and Pontus Wernbloom put CSKA in the driving seat.
Lyon’s bad night was summed when defender Benjamin Marcal had a verbal confrontation with manager Bruno Genesio after being substituted, and although they did pull a goal back through Mariano Diaz, the team whose stadium is to host the final in two months’ time had reached the end of the road.
Elsewhere, it was also the end of the road for Borussia Dortmund, whose goalless draw at Salzburg spelled a 2-1 loss on aggregate, while Zenit were sent packing at the hands of Salzburg’s Red Bull sisters Leipzig.
Atletico Madrid got five at Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille made light work of Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames, Lazio were too much for Dynamo Kiev, despite playing away from home, and Sporting Lisbon needed extra-time to see off Viktoria Plzen.
The draw for the last eight holds on Friday afternoon.
Arsenal 3-1 Milan (5-1)
Lyon 2-3 CSKA Moscow (3-3)
Viktoria Plzen 2-1 Sporting CP (2-3)
Zenit 1-1 RB Leipzig (2-3)
RB Salzburg 0-0 Dortmund (2-1)
Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Marseille (2-5)
Lokomotiv Moscow 1-5 Atletico Madrid (8-1)
Dynamo Kiev 0-2 Lazio (2-4)