Europa League - Semi-Final - 1st Leg
ArsenalArsenal1Atl MadridAtlético Madrid1

Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid

By Mike HensonBBC Sport
Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Greizmann has 20 goals in 25 games for Atletico Madrid in 2018

Antoine Griezmann punished Arsenal's lax defence late on as 10-man Atletico Madrid salvaged a draw from the Europa League semi-final first leg at Emirates Stadium.

The visitors were on the back foot for almost the entire game after defender Sime Vrsaljko was dismissed for two yellow cards in the first 10 minutes.

With Atletico's furious manager Diego Simeone sent to the stands shortly afterwards, the Spanish side survived unscathed to half-time, with Alexandre Lacazette clipping the post with a half-volley the hosts' best chance.

Lacazette nodded in Jack Wilshere's cross just after the hour to apparently edge the Gunners closer to a Europa League final send-off for outgoing manager Arsene Wenger.

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

Arsenal's fans were left ruing a familiar combination of wasteful finishing and costly lapses in concentration as the teams departed to a muted response in Wenger's final home European game.

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

Atletico's early outbursts

Atletico Madrid's Sime Vrsaljko is sent off in the 10th minute against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium
Sime Vrsaljko had picked up seven bookings in 25 previous appearances for Atletico this season

In contrast to Arsenal, Atletico Madrid's defensive discipline has served them well in recent continental campaigns, grinding out victory in four of their five European semi-finals over the past nine seasons.

But the Spaniards' usual pragmatism deserted them as they self-combusted in the opening 13 minutes.

Croatian right-back Vrsaljko was booked as he caught Wilshere late in the second minute and, instead of showing the requisite caution, blundered into Lacazette with his studs up eight minutes later.

So early in the contest, Atletico may have expected referee Clement Turpin to limit punishment to a stern and final warning.

But the 35-year-old Frenchman judged the challenge rather than the occasion and showed Vrsaljko a justified second yellow.

Simeone was exasperated by that decision and incensed by Turpin opting not to book Hector Bellerin shortly after. The Argentine was dispatched to the stands after aiming a stream of invective at the official.

Atletico in their element

Alexandre Lacazette heads Arsenal's goal against Atletico Madrid
Alexandre Lacazette was making only his third Europa League appearance of the season

If any side is suited to surviving such a precarious situation though, it is Atletico.

Midfielder Thomas Partey slotted back into defence, forward Griezmann dropped deeper and their whole side set about absorbing Arsenal's pressure and running down the clock.

The visitors rode their luck at times, with Lacazette grazing the post with an awkward half-volley, but had chances of their own in the first half with Griezmann thumping a fierce shot straight at David Ospina.

As Simeone stood impatiently in a gangway high above and his assistant German Burgos orchestrated from the sidelines, their side threatened to throttle the life out of the game.

The tightest defence in La Liga - with only 18 goals conceded in 34 games - was finally undone as Wilshere dug out a cross and Lacazette hung above Lucas Hernandez to score his 16th of the season.

With Griezmann lurking though, Atletico always retained the power to land a sucker punch.

The France international was played onside by dawdling Nacho Monreal before he hustled Koscielny into a swiped, unsuccessful clearance and applied the finish to spark delirium in the away section.

Diego Simeone
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone watched most of the match standing at the back of a section of Arsenal fans

Wenger to be denied dream send-off?

Aaron Ramsey's header was brilliantly pawed away by Jan Oblak as Arsenal pushed in vain to re-establish their lead but, given the weight of the away goal, it may not have unseated Atletico as favourites to progress.

Wenger has twice lost in European finals with Arsenal, missing out in a penalty shootout against Galatasaray in the 2000 Uefa Cup final, before being broken down by Barcelona in the Champions League final six years later.

It will require one of Arsenal's great European displays to take him to a third.

The Gunners may take heart from London rivals Chelsea, who won 2-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano in September.

Man of the match - Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)

Diego Godin
With Simeone dispatched to the stands, captain Diego Godin marshalled a superb defensive performance from the visitors

Score-draw specialist Simeone

  • Atletico Madrid have drawn 1-1 on each of their past three visits to England - against Leicester City in last season's Champions League quarter-final and at Chelsea in this season's group stage.
  • Atletico Madird have been victorious in seven of their nine two-legged knockout contests against English opponents.
  • Arsenal have lost all of the past three two-legged ties against Spanish opposition - all to Barcelona in the Champions League.

'The worst possible result considering the game'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger speaking to BT Sport: "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.

"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."

What's next?

Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Sunday in the Premier League (16:30 BST) while Atletico play Alaves away on the same day (15:15 BST). The teams' meet again in the second leg next Thursday at 20:05.



Formation 4-3-2-1

  • 13Ospina
  • 24Bellerín
  • 20Mustafi
  • 6Koscielny
  • 18Monreal
  • 8Ramsey
  • 29Xhaka
  • 10Wilshere
  • 23Welbeck
  • 11Özil
  • 9Lacazette


  • 16Holding
  • 17Iwobi
  • 21Chambers
  • 30Maitland-Niles
  • 31Kolasinac
  • 33Cech
  • 62Nketiah

Atl Madrid

Formation 4-4-2

  • 13Oblak
  • 16VrsaljkoBooked at 10mins
  • 24Giménez
  • 2Godín
  • 19Hernández
  • 11CorreaSubstituted forSavicat 75'minutes
  • 5Partey
  • 8Saúl
  • 6Koke
  • 21GameiroSubstituted forFernández Arenasat 65'minutes
  • 7GriezmannSubstituted forTorresat 85'minutes


  • 9Torres
  • 14Fernández Arenas
  • 15Savic
  • 18Diego Costa
  • 23Machín Pérez
  • 25Werner
  • 30Olabe
Clément Turpin

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamAtl Madrid
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Arsenal 1, Atlético de Madrid 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Arsenal 1, Atlético de Madrid 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right following a corner.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Stefan Savic.

  5. Post update

    Attempt saved. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Mesut Özil with a cross.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Lucas Hernández.

  7. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Laurent Koscielny with a headed pass.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Stefan Savic.

  9. Post update

    Mesut Özil (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Saúl Ñíguez (Atlético de Madrid).

  11. Post update

    Attempt missed. Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Alexandre Lacazette with a headed pass.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jan Oblak.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alexandre Lacazette.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Atlético de Madrid. Fernando Torres replaces Antoine Griezmann.

  15. Post update

    Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid).

  17. Goal!

    Goal! Arsenal 1, Atlético de Madrid 1. Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid) left footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the top right corner following a fast break.

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  19. Post update

    Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Gabi (Atlético de Madrid).


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