Arsenal's 2-0 victory over Milan Wednesday at San Siro marked the passing of the torch, as Fabregas and the other young Gunners outplayed an aging Milan team short of ideas.
Where Manchester United failed last spring Arsenal succeeded on Wednesday thanks to late goals from Fabregas (who had earlier hit the crossbar) and Emmanuel Adebayor (fed by teen Theo Walcott).
The 20-year-old Fabregas was one of only three starters (along with Ivorian Emmanuel Eboue and Belarus star Alexander Hleb) who started two years ago when Arsenal lost to Barcelona in the final of the UEFA Champions League. Since that defeat and the departure of Thierry Henry last summer, Arsenal has been reshaped in the image of Fabregas, who combined style and grit in anchoring the Arsenal midfield that stymied Milan.
"We gave the performance we wanted," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. "We played with organization. We never dropped off, we closed them down and never gave them time. Overall we played with authority, maturity and talent."
ROUND OF 16, SECOND LEG
March 4 in Milan
AC Milan 0 Arsenal 2. Goals: Fabregas 84, Adebayor 90+1.
AC Milan -- Kalac, Oddo, Nesta, Maldini, Kaladze, Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Kaka, Alexandre Pato, Inzaghi (Gilardino, 70).
Arsenal -- Almunia, Sagna, Senderos, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue (Walcott, 72), Fabregas, Diaby, Flamini, Hleb (Gilberto, 90+1), Adebayor.
Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria)
(Arsenal win 2-0 on aggregate)
March 4 in Seville
Sevilla 3 Fenerbahce 2. Goals: Daniel Alves 5, Keita 9, Kanoute 41; Deivid 20, 79.
Sevilla -- Palop, Daniel Alves, Escude, Dragutinovic, Adriano, Navas (Kone, 105), Poulsen (Maresca, 91), Keita, Capel, Luis Fabiano (Renato, 78), Kanoute.
Fenerbahce -- Volkan, Gokhan, Lugano, Edu, Gokcek, Deivid, Selcuk (Semih, 63), Mehmet Aurelio, Ugur (Kazim Kazim, 111), Alex (Ali, 112), Kezman.
Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland).
(Aggregate: 5-5; Fenerbahce win 3-2 on penalties)
March 4 in Barcelona
Barcelona 1 Celtic 0. Goal: Xavi 3.
Barcelona -- Valdes, Zambrotta, Thuram, Puyol, Silvinho, Xavi (Gudjohnsen, 82), Toure (Edmilson, 67), Deco, Ronaldinho, Messi (Henry, 38), Eto'o.
Celtic -- Boruc, Wilson, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor, Nakamura, Brown, Hartley (McDonald, 78), Donati (Svo, 46), McGeady, Vennegoor of Hesselink (Samaras 54).
Referee: Pieter Vink (Netherlands).
(Barcelona win 4-2 on aggregate.)
March 4 in Manchester
Manchester United 1 Lyon 0. Goal: Cristiano Ronaldo 41.
Manchester United -- van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson (Tevez, 70); Cristiano Ronaldo (Hargreaves, 90+1), Rooney, Nani.
Lyon -- Coupet, Clerc, Squillaci, Cris, Grosso, Kallstrom (Fred 79), Toulalan, Juninho, Ben Arfa, Govou (Keita, 68), Benzema.
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).
(Manchester United win 2-1 on aggregate)