Brave Gunners fall short

Essex County Standard: Arsenal fans Arsenal fans

Arsenal fell just short in their valiant effort to make Champions League history as they bowed out of the competition 4-3 on aggregate despite a 3-0 win over AC Milan at the Emirates Stadium.

Looking to be the first team in the Champions League era to overcome a four-goal deficit, the Gunners started in blistering fashion, going two up thanks to Laurent Koscielny's header and a strike from the excellent Tomas Rosicky.

Robin van Persie's penalty at the end of the first half put the Gunners on course for the most improbable of upsets but they ran out of steam after the break and Milan progressed to the quarter-finals.

Arsenal needed an early breakthrough, which came after just seven minutes when Koscielny - who had scored an own goal at Liverpool on Saturday - headed in a corner from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Arsenal were soon back on the offensive, when after 18 minutes Van Persie's curling 20-yard effort was acrobatically beaten away by Christian Abbiati.

The shaky Milan rearguard was breached again in the 25th minute. Theo Walcott surged down the right, and when his cross was half-cleared by Thiago Silva, the ball dropped to Rosicky who planted it back inside the near post.

Oxlade-Chamberlain powered into the right side of the Milan penalty area, when he was sandwiched by Antonio Nocerino and Djamel Mesbah. It seemed an age before Slovak referee Damir Skomina pointed to the spot and after another delay for the ball to be relaid, Van Persie kept his cool to smash home his 32nd goal of the season.

Despite their dominance, one break for Milan would have changed the whole dynamic of the tie. And the Italians' big chance came just before half-time when Stephan El Shaarawy was played into acres of space on the right, but as the goal opened up, the teenager shot wide.

Another goal hovered closer when Gervinho went clear on the left side of the Milan box, but his deflected shot hit the legs of the keeper, with Van Persie's follow-up hit straight at a relieved Abbiati.

Antonio Nocerino should have put the result beyond any doubt when he arrived at the back post onto Alberto Aquilani's low cross, but stabbed a tame effort straight at Wojciech Szczesny.

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