A late equalizer from French striker Antoine Griezmann gave 10-man Atletico Madrid a precious away-goal advantage over Arsenal as the first leg of their Europa League semi-final at the Emirates ended 1-1 on Thursday.
Arsenal were given a huge boost after 10 minutes when Atletico defender Sime Vrsaljko was sent off for stamping on Alexandre Lacazette’s foot, and Atletico coach Diego Simeone was sent to the stands for his furious reaction to the decision.
The Premier League side dominated possession and missed a number of clear chances with Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak making several fine saves before Lacazette broke the deadlock in the 61st minute.
The French forward headed Jack Wilshere’s cross down into the corner of the net to give manager Arsene Wenger hope of winning a trophy in his last season at the Premier League club.
Atletico seized back the initiative in the 82nd minute, however, when Griezmann sped past Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny, collected his rebounded shot off keeper David Ospina and calmly lifted the ball into the roof of the net.
“We come out tonight with a bitter taste,” Wenger told reporters after the penultimate home game of his 22-year reign as Arsenal manager.
“You have to stay 1-0 up and after that everything is open,” he added. "We created the anticlimax by giving away the goal.”
The teams head to Madrid for the second leg next week when Atletico, second in Spain’s La Liga, should have talismanic striker Diego Costa back in their line-up and Simeone praised the courage of his players.
“They are basically heroes," the Argentine said. "They stood firm for eighty-something minutes.
“The team responded to the red card with some fantastic defensive work and I think that will go down in the history of Atletico Madrid.”
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