Tuesday, March 17, 2015 10:50 pm
Arsenal have crashed out of the UEFA Champions League at the last 16 stage for a fifth straight season, winning 2-0 at Monaco but bowing by virtue of away goals with the tie finishing 3-3 on aggregate.
The Gunners went into the match needing to score at least three goals to achieve a rare comeback and reach the quarterfinal stage for the first time in five years.
It was Monaco that began the night better though, with an Anthony Martial cross finding Dimitar Berbatov who laid the ball off for Joao Moutinho, but the Portuguese midfielder curled his effort just over in the fourth minute.
Arsenal slowly gained a foothold on the match and began to create chances, with Olivier Giroud heading just wide in the 15th minute and Santi Cazorla seeing a goal-bound scissor-kick blocked in the 20th minute.
Laurent Koscielny then rattled the Monaco crossbar with a close range volley after 22 minutes, but Arsenal’s dominance would yield 10 minutes before the break.
A through-ball from Danny Welbeck sent Giroud on goal, with the Frenchman volleying the rebound in after his initial effort was blocked by Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subašić.
Giroud’s goal sparked more life into Arsenal’s game and the visitors nearly added to the advantage on the night, but Welbeck saw a goal-ward volley deflected just wide moments after the opener.
The closing minutes of the first half saw a Welbeck cross fly into Giroud but go straight to Subašić followed by Welbeck firing straight at Subašić from a tight angle as the Gunners went into the break well on top.
Arsenal began the second half as they ended the first, with Mesut Özil seeing a well struck free kick tipped over by a busy Subašić in the 53rd minute.
Monaco finally found their way into the Arsenal area just before the hour mark but shots toward goal were met with several blocks before Hector Bellerin eventually cleared the danger for the visitors.
Aaron Ramsey then came on for Francis Coquelin and soon made a telling impression when he drilled in Arsenal’s second with 11 minutes to go after fellow substitute Theo Walcott’s shot came off the post.
It set up a frantic finale as the Gunners surged forward in desperate search for the tie-winning goal but Monaco held on to nick the tie on away goals; having won the first leg 3-1 in London a fortnight ago.
The result leaves Arsenal to rue another poor first leg as the Premier League side falling just short of overturning a first leg deficit for a fourth successive season, with Monaco the beneficiaries this year, qualifying for the last eight for the third time in their history.
The principality club meanwhile is joined in the last eight by Atletico Madrid which beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 on penalties, having won 1-0 on the night to level the tie 1-1 on aggregate.
Mario Suarez had put last season’s losing finalists ahead in the first half of a match the Spanish champions dominated.
But with no further goals scored in normal and extra time, the tie went to penalties and it was Leverkusen striker Stefan Kießling who fired over to see Atletico through to the last eight.