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Europa League: Arsenal boss wants to avoid Atletico Madrid

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said he would prefer to avoid a Europa League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid after beating AC Milan in the last 16.

England striker Danny Welbeck scored twice – either side of a long-range strike from Granit Xhaka – as the Gunners won the second leg 3-1.

Hakan Calhanoglu had opened the scoring for Milan, but the Italian side fell to a 5-1 aggregate defeat.

“We would certainly want to avoid Atletico Madrid,” said Wenger.

The draw for the quarter-finals – which features teams from eight countries – will take place on Friday at 12:00 GMT.

This was Arsenal’s third win in a week after their first-leg victory in Milan and Sunday’s 3-0 Premier League defeat of Watford.

Prior to victory at the San Siro, the Gunners had lost four successive games in all competitions.

“It’s much better. We needed that to recover from our results,” Wenger said.

“It shows how the team has responded. We had a difficult game but in the end we won it. If we have the results and the way to play football, the crowds will be behind us.”

Turkish international Calhanoglu produced a stunning finish from 30 yards to give the Italians the lead.

The Gunners levelled within four minutes through Welbeck, who was controversially awarded a penalty after going down under minimal contact from Ricardo Rodriguez.

Xhaka’s long-range effort bobbled into the net for Arsenal’s second after poor goalkeeping by Milan’s highly rated Gianluigi Donnarumma, before Welbeck headed in a third.

“It was an open game. We played backwards a bit too much in the first half to protect the result. We played a very good side,” said Wenger.

“We have to improve defensively, but overall we are team with technical quality which is more attack-minded.

“We struggle a bit more when we have to defend. We finished the game more compact and more solid.”

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