Danny Welbeck avoids UEFA action over alleged AC Milan dive
Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck will not face punishment for alleged simulation during the first half of The Gunners’ 3-1 win against AC Milan in the Europa League Round of 32 last Thursday at the Emirates Stadium.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu struck a dipping effort from range to give Milan the lead on 35 minutes and cut Arsenal’s aggregate cushion to just one goal before Welbeck fell to the floor inside the box under pressure from left-back Ricardo Rodriguez to win a penalty just minutes later.
Welbeck netted that penalty and added a second late on after Granit Xhaka made it 2-1 in the second half as the hosts strolled to a 5-1 victory across both legs to progress into the round of 16.
Friday’s round of 16 draw revealed The Gunners will host Russian side CSKA Moscow, who knocked out Lyon on away goals after a hard-fought second leg 3-2 win in France in the last round, before making the long trip to the Eastern Europe in search for a quarter-final spot.
UEFA’s disciplinary body reviewed footage of the 37th minute incident over the weekend before announcing on Monday afternoon that no further action will be taken against Welbeck and he will therefore be available to take part when Moscow travel to England on April 5.
The 27-year-old didn’t speak on the matter after full-time, however, both managers gave their opinions on the alleged dive which arguably prevented Milan’s fightback seen as though they controlled the game in the opening stages before their opener.
Arsène Wenger was hesitant to share his thoughts in an interview with BT Sport after the match but said he “understood” why the AC Milan players were furious with the decision that ultimately ended their European run.
Wenger said: “I have not seen it again. I will watch it again and will give my honest feeling about it. [If I think it’s a dive] I will give him my honest feeling about it as well, do not worry.”
“There are two things; was it a penalty or not? I do not know,” the Frenchman continued. “The Italian players were unhappy with it, which I can understand because I do not really know what It was.”
AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso offered surprising insight in his TV interview; many managers would have been outraged by such an important call, but the former Milan midfielder did not blame Welbeck for his actions.
The Italy legend stated: “He is a striker, he has to do what he does, but we can’t use that as a reference for entire English football. There is a lot of fair play in England, there was a lot at stake tonight. Even myself as a player would try and take advantage of some situations. I’m not going to criticise these things.”
Winning the UEFA Europa League, as Manchester United managed to do last season, is now seemingly Arsenal’s only route into the 2018-19 Champions League after another disappointing Premier League campaign under long-term manager Arsène Wenger.
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