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AC Milan 0(0)-2(2) Arsenal – 04/03/08 – (Champions League) 6 March, 2008

Posted by lasagnechef in Champions League.
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That was amazing. Without a doubt, the best trip I have ever been on and probably the best game I’ve ever been to. It’s now Thursday morning and still can’t speak from celebrating; I’m starting to get worried! Sorry I didn’t report anything last night, I was fucking knackered. I’ve got work in an hour, I really cant be arsed with it but I suppose you lot want to know what I got up to before I leave.

Well it all started at 6:00am, Monday morning in London City Airport, we were really early for our flight so we went to the bar and had a pint watching the sunrise over the Thames. Nice. We got to Malpensa Airport near Milan about half 12 local time and got the bus into the city centre.

Once we made it to hotel, there was no time for messing around, we had a quick beer in the hotel bar and decided we were going to jump on a bus that was apparently heading towards the San Siro. My mate’s a Milan fan and he’s never been to see his team before so he was really looking forward to getting to the ground, but I was pretty excited too. It’s one of the best grounds in Europe and we would be playing there tomorrow night.

After a very confused walk through the streets of North-Eastern Milan we finally saw the top of the stadium through some trees. We went round the corner, past the buildings and there she was, the San Siro. It looked fucking massive, and when we finally got up to the stadium it looked even bigger.

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Going to Ashburton Grove every week, I’m used to big stadiums but this was a beast. I was thinking, ‘I’m not looking forward to walking to the top of that tomorrow night’. You see those big spirals; you have to walk up them to the top.

We decided to go look round the museum and have a stadium tour. In the museum there were a couple of Champions League Trophies and loads of memorable shirts and programmes from Inter and AC Milan games. Plus there were a few really old shirts, which I thought were quite good to see.

Then we went on the tour. We went straight down to pitch level, which was really good. There was a glass door that was like being at pitch level and then I went and stood right behind the Arsenal bench.

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The ground looked even bigger from inside and it had really kicked in now that it’s AC Milan vs. Arsenal tomorrow night. If you look at the top left of that picture above, the 8,000 Arsenal fans were sitting in the 3rd tier behind that netting if you can see it. It looked a long way away from down near the pitch.

Then we went inside to the dressing rooms and press area, she wouldn’t show us the Arsenal dressing room insisting it was very boring even though the whole tour group was Gooners. The home dressing rooms were quite small, and nowhere near as nice as the Ashburton Grove one I saw a couple of weeks ago. The AC Milan dressing room had a massive light up crest in the middle which was a sort of table and racing style seats with plasma TVs above each chair which they put the player’s name and number on, a bit over the top but it seemed to suit them.

After the tour we went for the shop for a bit where I got my game-scarf, went for a pint and a pack of crisps because we still hadn’t eaten and decided to jump on this tram thinking it was going in the general direction of the town centre so we could get some dinner. We ended up somewhere a bit more busy, with some shops and cafes which was a good sign but we still didn’t have a clue where we were. Eventually we found a tube station and got that into the Duomo town square.

This is where the big Cathedral and shopping arcade is, like what you see on Milan postcards. Loads of little cafes but I swear there are no bars anywhere in Milan! We found a nice little restaurant, had a pizza, and then set off to try find some sort of a bar where there might be some Gooners.

We ended up in another little cafe after a very eccentric Italian waiter persuaded us to have a beer. Then he brought out all these little dishes for us as well! Shame we’d just eaten but he seemed determined to make us feel welcome/spend all our Euros on beer there. We started talking to these other Arsenal fans and we decided we should ask a taxi driver where a pub is/where the football fans are.

He said he knew a good place and we took his word and jumped in. We ended up in this Irish bar in the south of the city. Good, we’d finally found a pub! However we were the only English people in there, never mind Arsenal fans and after a little while we gave up. I was tired anyway so I thought we’d go back to the hotel.

We woke up early the morning of the game, had a beer for the road at the Hotel and our plan was to head to the Duomo sq. for lunch and maybe there’d be some Arsenal fans there. On our way to the station I bumped into some mates and had lunch with them.

We made it into the city centre about 2ish and the Duomo was packed with Gooners singing. It was brilliant, this it what I’d come for. Finally we’d found the Arsenal fans!

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We stayed there all day until it was time to head down to the game. It was a great atmosphere around there. Everyone was singing but there was no trouble or anything like that. A group of Milan fans gathered across from the Gooners and did a bit of chanting but they left after about an hour. They gave us a few chants every now and again but the Arsenal fans were just non-stop singing. A few people decided it would be a good idea to go and get some Inter Milan flags from the stalls nearby which was quite funny.

There were a few policemen in riot gear just standing by, encase anything kicked off, but it was all calm and friendly. The policemen were taking photos of the crazy English fans and everything was all in good spirit.

After a few pints litres, it was finally time to head down to the San Siro.

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The underground was packed with Gooners, still with pints in hands, singing all the way to our stop. We got out and then the police said we would have to wait for this bus that would take us over to our end of the ground. It finally turned up and it was like being a caged animal but it was alright. We were singing, jumping and banging all the way to the stadium but the driver didn’t care. “We’re the front end, we’re the front end, we’re the front end of the bus!” There were a few idiots on there who started singing racist songs but they were just ignored.

We got through the crowd, through the turnstile and then we had to scale the giant spirals to the 3rd tier. We finally made it up there with about 15 minutes to go until the match started. No one pays attention to seat numbers at these sort of away games and just goes anywhere. In the end I was sitting at the bottom of some stairs, which was about half way up our tier and pretty much in the middle. This was my view:

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It was the team I expected with Hleb playing behind Adebayor. I’m not going to bother doing a match report because you’ve probably all read one by now and I’ve written enough crap already. It was a good game though; both sides were getting a fair amount of the ball and making a few chances. However it didn’t really seem that tense to me, it was just like two good footballing sides doing their stuff.

At half time I was feeling good about the game. It was still 0-0 but I thought that if you had pick a side – we dominated the first half. Fabregas had hit the bar and we were unlucky not to get a free kick on the edge of the box; the terrible referee gave Hleb a yellow card for apparently diving.

The second half continued pretty much the same. It was a good game but it looked like it was heading for another stalemate. It was starting to get a bit nail biting and I has starting to lose my nerve, I couldn’t sit still and I was constantly shouting at the referee for stupid free kicks and offsides that were nowhere near.

With 20 minutes to go, Eboue was taken off for Walcott. Eboue was ineffective again, Diaby on the other side wasn’t having the best game but he was trying and got into space a couple of times. Theo’s introduction was always going to have an impact on the game and it seemed to liven us up a bit.

The game was coming towards the end now, and I was thinking about the possibility of an incredibly nervous extra time and penalties, when this happened:

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YEaSSSSSSSSASHHShshajsfhkdhfgkldkfbudggnf!!!! I went fucking mental! Fabregas made some space about 30 yards out and tried his luck with a shot. It wasn’t hit incredibly hard but it was perfectly accurate and I watched it slowly go into the bottom left corner out of Kalac’s reach. Everyone around me was going crazy, there was no way Milan were going to get two goals in the time left. I saw my mate just sitting down on the steps with his head in his hands. I felt a bit bad but someone had to lose!

Two minutes into injury time Adebayor sealed it. Walcott has to take the credit though; he took up the ball on the right, beat his man and put a ball in along the floor for Ade to tap in unmarked at the far post. We went mental again, I’m surprised I didn’t fall down the flight of stairs next to me.

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The final whistle went and we were through to the quarter finals. The first English team to ever beat AC Milan in the San Siro and what a victory it was. I’m sure all of the Arsenal supporters there will never forget this night, this is up there with the Champions League wins against Real Madrid and Juventus.

There was no doubt that we weren’t worthy winners, after the game the once again anonymous ‘Kaka said we deserved to go through and Cesc Fabregas said that goal was the best moment of his career. You never know what can happen if you just shoot!

After the game we were held in the stadium for an hour after kick off, and remember they’re an hour ahead over there. They stuck us a DVD on the big screens at least. We didn’t get out until about half 11, I was thinking of going to the bar back in the Duomo square but when I saw the bus that went back to the hotel we thought we’d better go back. I was knackered anyway and probably would’ve never found our way home had we continued on the litres of beer. We had a beer in the hotel as they had the game showing on the TV there. It was only the last 15 minutes, but that was alright haha.

In the morning I discovered that I’d completely lost my voice from celebrating and singing. I couldn’t speak at all most of yesterday; my mate even had to answer the phone when my Da called and tell the air hostess what I wanted to drink on the plane. It’s still really bad now even though we scored about 38 hours ago. I’m a bit worried that I might have shouted so loud I’ve fucked my vocal chords up. Oh well it’ll be worth it.

I’m back home now and I’ve looked through all the great photos from the night, there are some brilliant ones out there of Fabregas celebrating. It was an incredible trip, not a bad one for my first European away game anyway! I’ll never forget it. This was a landmark night for this young Arsenal side, to beat the champions of Europe in their own back yard and I was there to witness it.

The draw for the next round is on the 14th March and the 1st leg will be played on the 1st or 2nd April and the second will be on the 8th or 9th. I’m desperately praying that the second leg is on the 8th, because on the 9th I’m flying to America to go skiing that afternoon and I would have no way of following the game. It would be an absolute nightmare for me. I’m just begging that we will be playing on the 8th.

Next up is Wigan away, we need to win there. I’m sure Wenger will work out how to channel these high spirits and confidence into the league. Come on you Arsenal! Thanks for reading.

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Comments»

1. Gunner8 - 6 March, 2008

Boom

2. gazzap - 6 March, 2008

very good report mate – sounds like the perfect trip. thanks for taking the time to get it all down. it gives a very different perspective to just sitting on your sofa watching the game.

3. Gunner8 - 6 March, 2008

Lasagne Chef, was also in milan, it was a great day the square was awesome and after the goal went in and then the second arghhh

My voice is just about coming back now…

I wanted to suggest to you a section on Arsenal Songs… …you have the most informative site with the old kits, the squad etc.

No gunners site has up to date songs like the new Clichy and Sagna ones they all have the yellow ribbon and things… …just a suggestion

Keep up the good work!

4. Eric - 6 March, 2008

Excellent report. As a guy who has never been in England, let alone Europe, I really appreciate the insider’s report from an actual match.

I did get to see Chelsea vs Newcastle in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2004 (Asia FA Cup, I think they only had it one year – also involved Birmingham City and the Malaysia national team), but that really doesn’t count, does it?

5. lasagnechef - 6 March, 2008

Maybe I’ll get round to that Gunner8, sounds like something to do when I’m bored at home.

6. Gunner8 - 6 March, 2008

Great Chef… …herdee gerdee

7. Ed - 6 March, 2008

Lasagne Chef-

This was the best piece I’ve read about the game. So damn original! Please keep the insightful commentary about a real fans experiences coming! One of these days I’m going to have to make the trip myself. I’m longing for a trip to the Grove one day and perhaps buy you a pint before the match to repay you for your work.

I’m a fellow skiier living in America (San Francisco)… and make the trip to Tahoe every weekend (kids race on a ski team). Trust me, you can still watch every minute of Arsenal game (live or on delay). While you were watching live behind the netting, drinking and singing alongside 8,000 gooners in the cavernous San Siro, my eyes were tuned to a corner of my left-most monitor which showed the game whilst the rest of my screens were keeping me up with the financial markets. Two sets of eyes, thousands of miles apart, but similar emotions I’m sure when Cesc’s effort somehow nestled in the corner of the net.

Its amazing how this thing called the internet can keep gooners stitched together from all parts of the globe.

Count yourself privileged and lucky to be able to follow the team so up close and personal. Thank you for sharing your experiences with the rest of us all over the world.

8. Jack Scurvy - 6 March, 2008

Excellent write up, Chef. Love the photos. Must have been incredible being there.

9. GlancingHeader - 6 March, 2008

Great piece, Chef. I wasn’t jealous about your trip to Milan before the game but now I am. It was an incredible game on TV. I’m sure it’s at least 10 times better live. I had to record it and didn’t start watching until midnight. By 130AM, I was thinking “here comes extra time” then Bang! Cesc scored. I had the audio off and had to look twice before I believed the ball was in the net. Wow!

Cheers.

10. East Upper - 6 March, 2008

Great article mate, thanks for writing it I’m glad you had such a fantastic time.
Your site is up there with Arseblog & Goodplaya.
I’m based in Florida temporarily & can confirm that you can watch the games over here.
Go onto the Fox Soccer Channel website (assuming they have the game) & they have a list of local bars that show the games.Its worth checking that they are actually screening the games (most bars have web sites). Setanta have the other games & the bars that show soccer (sorry) have Fox & Setanta.

11. American Gooner - 6 March, 2008

Hey Lasagne Chef-
Don’t be so sure that America won’t be playing the game. I’ll be able to watch it and I live there.
Either ESPN2 or Setanta Sports will be showing it. There’s bound to be some pub that has Setanta or you’re hotel room is going to have ESPN2.

12. J - 6 March, 2008

Great report,

Awsome pics, where u flying to America my friend.
If u not in the air between 2:45-500 Eastern time u might be able to catch it across the Atlantic with us.
IF u fly into NYC I can tell u of some pubs in manhattan where the game will be shown and there will be plenty of Arsenal Fans around.
IF you fly to Boston u can join me at the pub and watch the game cuz I am bolting out of work for it 4 sho’

13. Gerry - 6 March, 2008

Thanks for that lasagnechef. Must have been an awesome experience. Reports over here say that Milan fans applauded us off the pitch. Is that accurate?

14. Connolly's agent - 6 March, 2008

Fucking awesome report on a fucking awesome blog about a fucking awesome game between two fucking awesome teams in a fucking awesome stadium. And what a fucking awesome result. What more can I say?

NYC, Nevada Smiths (near Astor Place) is a great place to enjoy overpriced beer and Arsenal.

15. Connolly's agent - 6 March, 2008

Got to say that, judging from that photo, we gooners are a fucking ugly bunch of fuckers, aren’t we? I doubt Duomo Square has ever had to endure such a bloody fucking eyesore. Why can’t Arsenal FC subsidise a more photogenic cheersquad to accompany the team? Fucking embarassment.

16. phuongnana - 7 March, 2008

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17. Ollie - 7 March, 2008

Good stuff, ‘chef, as usual.
You’re going to America for skiing? Fuck me, that’s a bit radical!

18. lasagnechef - 7 March, 2008

No guys, I’ll actually be in the air when the game would be on. I’m sure there’s loads of places showing it in America but I doubt one of them will be the plane!

19. Gunner8 - 7 March, 2008

Lasagnechef

I am hoping the first leg is on the 2nd… …I am in the air coming back from my stag in cuba and don’t get in until the morning of the 2nd ARGH!

Same for Milan at home I was off to a wedding in NY and gave my dad the ticket’s… …was gutted but at least I made it to the second leg

20. lasagnechef - 8 March, 2008

I wouldn’t be as tense if it was the 1st leg I was missing, I could maybe cope with that, but the second leg? I am worried mate.


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