Arsene Wenger was able to recall his time-honoured response when asked whether Danny Welbeck dived to win a penalty in Arsenal’s 3-1 Europa League last-16 win over AC Milan.
Leading 2-0 from last week’s first leg at San Siro, the Gunners fell behind to a stunning Hakan Calhanoglu strike 10 minutes before half-time.
Milan’s hopes of a memorable comeback were short-lived as Welbeck converted from the penalty spot four minutes later having gone down under negligible contact from Ricardo Rodriguez.
An error from Gianluigi Donnarumma saw Granit Xhaka extinguish the fading prospects of Gennaro Gattuso’s side and Welbeck added his second four minutes from time.
Attention after the match turned back towards the penalty decision and, not for the first time in his illustrious career, Wenger claimed he did not see a key incident.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I will watch it again promise I will give you an honest answer,” he told BT Sport.
“Maybe, looking at the reaction of the Italian players, maybe we got a little bit lucky.
“The positive of the situation is straight away at 1-0 down you could see the response of the team. We released our handbrake a little bit and played positively.
“Were we lucky on the penalty? Maybe, I don’t know.
“I don’t want to accuse Danny Welbeck of diving before I have seen the situation. He looked genuine, [thinking] it was a penalty. I will watch it again.”
2 – Arsenal have won both legs of a European knock-out tie for the first time since 2003-04, when they beat Celta Vigo in both legs of the Champions League last 16. Conviction. pic.twitter.com/uQ6PheC1F7
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 15, 2018
Wenger lost senior central defender Laurent Koscielny during the opening stages when the France international cramped up having taken a kick to the back.
In the context of that loss and the torrid form in which Arsenal entered the tie, the veteran French coach was particularly pleased with the character his team showed.
“It’s much better. We needed that to recover our form from a bad week,” Wenger added.
“It shows that the team is healthy and has responded. We had a difficult game but in the end we won it.
“It was open and we played a little bit with a handbrake. Instead of turning the ball forwards we played backwards and played too much to protect the result.
“Then you put yourself in danger. We were playing against a good side who have not lost in 14 games in the Italian championship.”
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