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Arsenal v Atletico Madrid – story of the match

The Gunners were punished for wasting a host of chances against 10 men.

If Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal finale is to be a Europa League final in Lyon his side will have to do it the hard way after surrendering a well-deserved lead to draw against 10-man Atletico Madrid in the first-leg of their semi-final.

Even taking into account their 80-minute numerical advantage, this was one of Arsenal’s best team displays of the campaign as a loud Emirates Stadium crowd saw Alexandre Lacazette head them in front following a largely-dominant hour of the tie.

But, as with many of Arsenal’s recent campaigns, there was to be a late sting in the tail as defensive deficiencies were laid bare for all to see as Antoine Griezmann sealed a 1-1 draw with a late equaliser.

Before Lacazette’s opener, Madrid were holding out for a goalless draw to take back to the Spanish capital for next Thursday’s second-leg as Sime Vrsaljko was sent off early on, followed swiftly by their manager Diego Simeone.

Tweet of the match

Star man – Jack Wilshere

Arsenal v Atletico Madrid – UEFA Europa League – Semi Final – First Leg – Emirates Stadium

A calming presence with classy touches in a cluttered midfield. Could Jack be the man to take his old buddy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s seat on the plane to Russia for the World Cup this summer?

Moment of the match

Arsenal were on course for victory when Griezmann chased down a long ball over the top. Laurent Koscielny’s attempted clearance hit the striker in the face and then Shkodran Mustafi slipped on the goal-line as he attempted to block. All very messy and potentially very costly.

Crowd watch

Arsenal v Atletico Madrid – UEFA Europa League – Semi Final – First Leg – Emirates Stadium

The atmosphere at the Emirates was better than it has been for a long time. It was cranked up after Vrsaljko saw red, and up another notch when Simeone was sent to the stands. Again, not much acknowledgement of the soon-to-be departing manager, though.

Data point

Arsenal are playing in their eighth European semi-final and have progressed from six of the previous seven. So there is still hope. Tottenham should take note, too.


Arsenal: Ospina 7, Bellerin 7, Mustafi 6, Koscielny 5, Monreal 6, Xhaka 7, Ramsey 6, Wilshere 8, Ozil 6, Welbeck 5, Lacazette 7.

Atletico Madrid: Oblak 8, Vrsaljko 2, Gimenez 6, Godin 6, Lucas 4, Correa 6, Thomas 6, Saul 6, Koke 6, Griezmann 7, Gameiro 5. Subs: Gabi (for Gameiro, 65) 5, Savic (for Correa, 75) 5, Torres (for Griezmann, 85) 5.

Who’s up next?

Manchester United v Arsenal (Premier League, Apr 29)

Alaves v Atletico Madrid (La Liga, Apr 29)


From Belfast Telegraph