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Monaco survive Arsenal onslaught to advance

AS Monaco FC 0-2 Arsenal FC (agg: 3-3, Monaco win on away goals)
Aaron Ramsey struck 11 minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish, but the hosts just about hung on.

Highlights: Monaco v Arsenal
Highlights: Monaco v Arsenal

Monaco through to last eight for the first time since reaching the final in 2004
Aaron Ramsey makes it 2-0 on the night 11 minutes from time
Danijel Subašić claws late effort around the post as Monaco hang on
Exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from second leg at the Stade Louis II
• Quarter-final draw in Nyon on 20 March at 12.00CET

AS Monaco FC are through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2003/04 – but they were pushed all the way by an Arsenal FC side who came close to making history.

No team had ever recovered a 3-1 first-leg defeat at home in the UEFA Champions League but perhaps none have come closer than the Gunners. They took the game to their opponents' feted back line throughout. Olivier Giroud pulled one back before the interval and Aaron Ramsey struck 11 minutes from time to leave them on the brink. They so nearly got over the line, a combination of Alexis Sánchez and Giroud meeting a cross at the far post that Danijel Subašić clawed wide.

The first attempt actually came from Monaco and João Moutinho amid an enterprising start but once Giroud had sent a shot across the bows, heading just wide on 14 minutes, the hosts battened down the hatches. Arsenal began testing for weaknesses: sending in high balls, through balls, balls down the channels. They were all treated the same: smeared back into their own half by a Monaco defender. Try again.

It was a dangerous game, and even if the flag was up for offside when Laurent Koscielny hooked against the crossbar, a warning was served. It was not heeded. Soon after, the lively Danny Welbeck slipped Giroud through and while Subašić blocked his initial effort, there was nothing the keeper could do as the Arsenal forward speared the ball in with his weaker right foot.

There was not a flicker of a smile, only muted celebrations – there was still plenty to do. Monaco were rocking, grateful for a fortuitous block from Aymen Abdennour, lying prone near his goal line, when Welbeck connected with a fizzing shot. The suffocating pressure continued after half-time but gradually Monaco eased off the tourniquet, committing more men forward and forcing the Gunners onto the back foot.

Arsène Wenger, in familiar surrounds at the Stade Louis II, sought to drive them back, introducing Ramsey for the more defensive Francis Coquelin. It was all or nothing now. Mesut Özil sent a half-volley just wide, then with 11 minutes to go Theo Walcott hit the post and Layvin Kurzawa contrived to clear straight to Ramsey: the substitute did the rest to set up a grandstand finale. Monaco somehow held on to advance on away goals.

The Monaco dressing room before kick-off
The Monaco dressing room before kick-off©Getty Images
Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger arrives at the stadium
Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger arrives at the stadium©Getty Images
Left-back Layvin Kurzawa makes early inroads, forcing Alexis Sánchez into defensive duty
Left-back Layvin Kurzawa makes early inroads, forcing Alexis Sánchez into defensive duty©AFP/Getty Images
Olivier Giroud heads just too high and wide on 14 minutes
Olivier Giroud heads just too high and wide on 14 minutes©AFP/Getty Images
Giroud reacts to his narrow miss
Giroud reacts to his narrow miss©AFP/Getty Images
Aymen Abdennour gets his head to an Arsenal free-kick
Aymen Abdennour gets his head to an Arsenal free-kick©AFP/Getty Images
Santi Cazorla lashes an effort towards goal
Santi Cazorla lashes an effort towards goal©AFP/Getty Images
Olivier Giroud collects the rebound off Danijel Subašić before firing Arsenal 1-0 up
Olivier Giroud collects the rebound off Danijel Subašić before firing Arsenal 1-0 up©Getty Images
The France striker's celebrations are muted, pointing the way
The France striker's celebrations are muted, pointing the way©AFP/Getty Images
Dimitar Berbatov and Laurent Koscielny contest a high ball as ASM seek to release the pressure
Dimitar Berbatov and Laurent Koscielny contest a high ball as ASM seek to release the pressure©AFP/Getty Images
Giroud holds his head in his hand after another near miss
Giroud holds his head in his hand after another near miss©AFP/Getty Images
Aaron Ramsey drives a low shot into the net with 11 minutes left
Aaron Ramsey drives a low shot into the net with 11 minutes left©Getty Images
Ramsey (No16) sprints back into his own half after making it 2-0
Ramsey (No16) sprints back into his own half after making it 2-0©AFP/Getty Images
The Monaco bench celebrates at full time
The Monaco bench celebrates at full time©AFP/Getty Images
Danijel Subašić leads the celebrations at full time
Danijel Subašić leads the celebrations at full time©AFP/Getty Images

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