AC Milan's Calhanoglu calls referee Arsenal's 'man of the match' in defeat

AC Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu said that referee Jonas Eriksson was Arsenal's "man of the match" after his side were bounced from the Europa League 5-1 on aggregate by the Gunners.

Calhanoglu, 24, scored a miraculous goal from 30 yards away to put Milan up 1-0 and get them right back in the tie after losing 2-0 at San Siro last week.

Minutes later, Eriksson whistled Ricardo Rodriguez for a very questionable foul on Danny Welbeck and pointed to the spot. Welbeck converted the penalty and gave momentum back to Arsenal before the break in a match they went on to win 3-1 with further strikes from Granit Xhaka and a second from Welbeck.

After the match, Calhanoglu told Milan TV: "The referee was man of the match. I will never forget that.

"We played well and it's not easy to do that here. We scored and then conceded an incredible goal, it's not normal in the Europa League to see something like that.

"Ricardo Rodriguez didn't touch him, but for the referee it was a penalty anyway. I was fouled in the first leg and didn't let myself go like that.

"It's obvious that was the incident that changed the game. We reacted well even after their equaliser and had chances, but this is football."

Arsene Wenger said he didn't see the play that resulted in the first-half penalty, but added that he'd have a word with Welbeck if indeed his striker was guilty of diving.

Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso said if it was a penalty or a dive or not didn't really matter, his team would make no excuses in defeat and credited Arsenal's quality over the two legs.

"[Welbeck's] a striker, he has to do what he does," Gattuso said to Sky Sports Italia. "We can't use that as a reference for English football. There's a great deal of fair play in England.

"When I was a player, I'd try to take advantage of individual situations, but I'm not going to judge these things.

"I don't want to talk about the referee. I don't want any alibi. In the same way [goalkeeper Gianluigi] Donnarumma made a mistake, as you can, a referee can make a mistake as well.

"I am proud of my lads, the qualification was lost at San Siro. What makes me angry is when we give up after going 2-1 down and concede the third. We have to keep going.

"I think the team is raising the bar in Italy, these two games against a very strong Arsenal side showed we could cause them problems. I don't look for alibis.

"As I said, I'm most angry about the third goal, because we shouldn't let our heads drop and leave the field after going behind. We have to stay in it to the 90th minute.

"This is a side that is young, can do a lot more and reach the levels where Arsenal are at right now. They have more experience and attacking nous."