Arsenal have a lot of work to do in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final tie, as Atletico Madrid scored a vital away goal late on to ensure that they have the advantage heading into next week. The atmosphere was electric at times during tonight’s game at the Emirates, but ultimately, that meant nothing as the Gunners were unable to give themselves a real advantage even after Atletico went down to ten men.
The fans and players alike are all eager to see Arsene Wenger ride off into the sunset with a piece of European silverware, but as we all know by now, football doesn’t work like that. This game doesn’t play by any rules and it doesn’t award things to those who remain dedicated to one particular team – it’s ruthless, and we saw that again tonight in the form of another Frenchman spoiling Arsenal’s night.
Things started off fantastically for the English hosts as Sime Vrsaljko picked up two yellow cards in a bizarre ten-minute period. The incident caused Atletico manager Diego Simeone to throw his toys out of the pram, and as a result, he was sent to the stands where he was forced to watch the remainder of the game.
Arsenal began to step up the pressure but it wasn’t quite enough, with Alexandre Lacazette coming closest to opening the scoring before the break. With each failed attempt at goal came an added sense of tension around the stadium, as fans wondered whether or not they’d live to regret their misses – but thankfully, Lacazette himself put them at ease just after the hour mark.
The 26-year-old nodded in the first goal of the game from Jack Wilshere’s cross, but unfortunately, they weren’t able to capitalise on Atletico’s frailties as they wasted a handful of chances to double the lead.
Then, the seemingly inevitable happened, as Griezmann pounced on a long ball before battling past Koscielny and slotting in the equaliser that everyone was dreading.
With that one away goal the tone of this tie completely changed, and now, Arsenal face an uphill battle to qualify for the UEFA Europa League. The reason for that is because of Atletico’s overwhelming defensive success at home throughout the current campaign, leaving many to wonder whether or not Wenger’s side will even be able to break the deadlock.
For now, however, their attention will turn to this weekend when they face Manchester United whereas Atletico will travel to take on Alaves.
Arsenal: Ospina (6), Bellerin (7), Monreal (5.5), Koscielny (5), Mustafi (6), Wilshere (7.5), Xhaka (6), Ozil (6), Ramsey (7), Welbeck (6.5), Lacazette (7.5).
Atletico Madrid: Oblak (7.5), Vrsaljiko (RC), Gimenez (7.5), Godin (7.5), Lucas (7), Correa (6), Saul (6.5), Partey (6), Koke (6), Gameiro (5), Griezmann (7.5).
Subs: Gabi (6.5), Savic (6), Torres (N/A)
Referee: Clément Turpin
Yellow Cards: Vrsaljko x2
Red Card: Vrsaljko
Goals: Lacazette :: Griezmann
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