Atlético Madrid, despite playing 80 minutes with ten men, earned a smash and grab 1-1 draw against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium in the first leg of the Europa League semi final.
Arsenal dominated from start with their strikers in busy mode. Lacazette hitting the outside of the post when he should have hit the back of the net, Monreal’s header drew a point blank save from Jan Oblak, and the highly rated goalkeeper held a tame Welbeck shot.
Atlético Madrid are known for their hard tackling and it earned defender Croatian defender, Sime Vrsaljko his dismissal in the 9th minute after accumulating two yellow cards in eight minutes for tackles worthy of a straight dismissal. His manager soon joined him, Diego Simeone sent to the stands by the no-nonsense French referee, Clement Turpin for Argentine’s endless tantrums on the touchline.
It’s was all Arsenal afterwards as the Gunners attacked like a swarm of bees but Atletico’s defence is a famed for its firmness. The Diego Godin-led backline stayed shut all through the half, staying narrow and affording Arsenal only three tame chances.
Atlético Madrid, and Griezmann in particular, had been quiet all night in attack, but bad Arsenal clearance brought two goalscoring opportunities from just outside the area, and Ospina saved well on both occasions. The former Europa League winners, who are favourites to win this season, had further opportunities to take an unlikely lead through Ghana’s Thomas Partey and Angel Correa but could not make them count.
Arsenal continued the onslaught after the interval, putting several crosses into the box which Atletico’s defence repelled, but the Londoners scored from the first real connection of one of such croses. Griezmann was caught in possession while trying to play it pretty at the back and an impressive header by Lacazette, who hung in the air to head Wilshere’s cross beyond Oblak, gave Arsenal a deserved lead.
Arsene Wenger’s boys kept knocking on the visitor’s door who held firm and equalized eight minutes from time completely against the run of play, aided by a comical Arsenal defence.
Captain Lorient Koscielny made a mess of a clearance from a long ball forward let Griezmann in and the striker scored at the second attempt with Mustafi slipping as the ball went in.
Arsenal should have restored their lead almost immediately but Ramsey’s diving header was off target, and Diego Simeone’s gladiators withstood the onslaught to take a well earned 1-1 draw back to Spain for the return leg.
In the other semi final, it’s advantage Olympic Marseille, as a Dimitri Payet-inspired team won 2-0 at home to Red Bull Salzburg. One goal in each half from Florian Thauvin and Clement N’jie means the French club head to Austria for the second leg with a comfortable advantage.