EUROPA LEAGUE: ARSENAL 1-1 ATLETICO MADRID

Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One

Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring his sides late first and equalizing goal during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final leg one match between Arsenal FC and Atletico Madrid at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One

Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette opened the match scoring

EUROPA LEAGUE: ARSENAL 1-1 ATLETICO MADRID

Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid – UEFA Europa League Semifinals first leg tie

Arsenal goal: Lacazette (61' minutes)

Atletico Madrid goal: Griezmann (82' minutes)

Vrsaljko (Dismissed at 10' minutes)

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side wasted a golden opportunity to put themselves well ahead on the road to the 2018 Europa League Final after conceding a devastating late equalizer against 10-man Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their semi-final tie. The Gunners led 1-0 through Alexandre Lacazette and were in control against a Spanish side playing with 10 men from the 10th minute. But defensive problems allowed La Liga superstar Antoine Griezmann to score giving the visitors an away goal and the advantage going into next week’s second leg in Madrid, Spain. 

"Looking at the performance and the way the game went, it was the worst possible result for us, but we have to go there in a positive mood and qualify,” said Arsene Wenger. “Of course it feels like an opportunity missed. We could have qualified tonight but it didn't happen. Their keeper made a lot of saves and they showed their quality by scoring with one chance. What matters is that we go there with the belief to do it."

Premier League giant club Arsenal were in control for almost the entire game after Atletico defender Sime Vrsaljko was dismissed for two yellow cards in the first 10 minutes and the visitors were down to 10 men. With Atletico's furious manager Diego Simeone sent to the stands shortly afterward for yelling at the referees, the Spanish side survived unscathed to half-time. But Lacazette nodded in Jack Wilshere's cross just after the hour to edge the Gunners closer to a Europa League final send-off for outgoing manager Arsene Wenger.

But with eight minutes remaining Griezmann latched onto a long ball forward, shrugged off Laurent Koscielny and sent the ball into the net at the second attempt for an away goal to swing the tie Atletico's way going into the second leg in Madrid next Thursday

Arsenal's fans know their team now must breach an Atletico defense that has conceded just four times at home in Spanish La Liga this season to have any hope of extending Arsene Wenger's 22-season spell in charge to the final on 16 May.

Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One

 Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Oblak is one of the best in the world

Gunners boss Arsène Wenger talked about his week and their home record - the second best in England - they have only two points fewer than Manchester City (having played a game more). They are currently 12th in the Premier League away table.

“For me personally, very busy. But I try to keep the priorities right. I live for competition and comp is winning games. Just to focus on your job and try to do as well as you can as long as you’re here. The fans will be behind the team, I don’t worry about that. Overall our home season has been very strong. If you look at our results at home, they’ve been outstanding. So let’s just continue that in Europe as well,” said Wenger.

Wenger was asked about the decision to start with Ospina in goal, rather than Cech:

“Every decision is tough,” added Wenger. “I believe that Petr Cech just comes back from injury, I don’t feel he’s completely recovered from it. He takes a lot on his chin because he suffers still a little bit. He’s available, but I think Ospina has played the whole competition and has done really well recently. It’s a difficult decision.”

Are they relying on Ramsey and Lacazette to score?

“Ideally, honestly, I don’t mind who scores as long as we score. The target is just to score and not to concede, because the weight of the away goal is huge. You want everybody to contribute, to defend well, not our strongest point this season. We have to use our strengths and maybe everybody to push harder, to do work they don’t normally like to do, continued Wenger.”

And about his opinion of Atletico Madrid?

“Look, they are the second team in Spain, they are above Real Madrid. What we need to do is stop their counter-attacking, keep Griezmann quiet because he’s a very dangerous player, and cope with the challenge the give us. I think in the Europa League the physical challenge is greater than the Champions League, and we play a team who can run.”

Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One

Greizmann has 20 goals in 25 games for Atletico Madrid in 2018

Squads

Arsenal

Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere; Welbeck, Özil; Lacazette. Subs: Cech, Holding, Iwobi, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Nketiah.

Atlético Madrid

Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas; Correa, Saúl Niguez, Partey, Koke; Gameiro, Griezmann. Subs: Werner, Torres, Gabi, Savic, Diego Costa, Vitolo, Olabe.

Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One

Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid goes past goalie David Ospina of Arsenal to score his sides first goal during the UEFA Europa League Semi Final leg one match between Arsenal FC and Atletico Madrid at Emirates Stadium.

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EUROPA LEAGUE UPDATE

The Europa League trophy Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will hope to end his Gunners’ reign with was stolen and quickly recovered on Friday. Appearing at a sponsor’s event at Leon in Mexico, the silverware went missing, only to be reclaimed shortly after. The trophy will be presented to one of Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Red Bull Salzburg or Marseille after the Europa League final in Lyon and gratefully did not suffer any damage. Last minute Arsenal v Atletico Madrid tickets are still available for sale from LiveFootballTickets.com to watch Arsenal compete on the road to Lyon, France!

   

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Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One

Lacazette and Oblak