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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 28 May, 2018
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Good evening and welcome along to our live coverage of tonight’s Europa League semi-final first leg between Arsenal and Atletico Madrid from the Emirates Stadium.

Twenty-two years in charge, and Arsene Wenger’s extraordinary reign comes down to the next 180 minutes of knock-out football. A place in the final is on the line, but there is much more than major European success at stake.

A huge night ahead in north London, so stick with us as we bring you all the action.

Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One Source: Christopher Lee - UEFA

Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One Source: Stuart MacFarlane

2018 UEFA Europa League Football Semi Final 1st Leg Arsenal v Atletico Madrid Apr 26th Source: John Patrick Fletcher

951184504 Source: Bryn Lennon

TEAM NEWS: Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere return to Arsenal’s starting XI but Wenger has stuck with David Ospina in goal, with Petr Cech named on the bench.

Tonight’s other semi-final tie sees Marseille and Red Bull Salzburg go head-to-head at the Stade Vélodrome. We’ll keep you updated with developments from that one throughout the evening, too.

Arsene Wenger has been speaking to BT Sport pre-match, as he prepares for his final European home game in charge:

“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.”

Arsenal are appearing in their eighth European semi-final — they have progressed from six of the previous seven, only failing to reach the final in 2008-09 in the Champions League when they lost to Man United.

Which way do you see tonight going?


Poll Results:





Just under 10 minutes until kick off at the Emirates, so let’s take a final check on tonight’s teams.

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.

Full house at the Emirates and the atmosphere is really building.

Arsenal FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Europa League Semi Final Leg One Source: Richard Heathcote

2018 UEFA Europa League Football Semi Final 1st Leg Arsenal v Atletico Madrid Apr 26th Source: John Patrick Fletcher

2Mins

2 mins – We have our first yellow card of the evening after just 75 seconds. Sime Vrsaljko snaps away at Wilshere’s ankles after the Arsenal midfielder found space and he goes into the book.

5Mins

4 mins – Arsenal have started well and are looking to put Atletico under some early pressure, as Hector Bellerin whips in a dangerous cross from the right.

6Mins

5 mins – Atletico haven’t had a touch in the opening exchanges with the Arsenal midfield forcing the early tempo. Cracking atmosphere inside the Emirates.

7Mins

7 mins — Chance! Arsenal are piling forward and after finding acres of space down the left, Welbeck picks out the unmarked Lacazette, who volleys inches wide with Oblak rooted to the spot.

8Mins

8 mins — Another sight of goal for Lacazette, who this time forces Oblak into a fine save after Monreal’s pinpoint delivery from the left and then moments later, Welbeck tries his luck from range but fails to get any power behind his effort.

Flag 11Mins

10 mins — RED! Atletico are down to 10 men as Vrsaljko is shown a second yellow by the French referee for catching Lacazette on the ankle with his studs up. It was late and rash and he probably deserved to go. Simeone doesn’t agree and he’s going absolutely furious on the touchline.

14Mins

12 mins – And now the Atletico manager has been sent to the stands! His side have made a shocking start and Simeone has lost the plot on the touchline. It’s all kicking off at the Emirates and we’re only 12 minutes in!

15Mins

15 mins – Arsenal, who have dominated the opening exchanges, need to keep the ball moving and avoid being dragged into a dogfight here, as Atletico drop deeper. Lacazette has been heavily involved and has another header on goal, but can’t keep his effort down to trouble Oblak.

18Mins

18 mins – Arsenal piling the pressure on the visitors now as Lacazette and Ozil link up delightfully on the edge of the box, and then Welbeck picks the advancing Wilshere out, but he heads straight at the ‘keeper.

23Mins

20 mins – Arsenal are getting closer. Welbeck plays a lovely one-two and then forces Oblak into a smart stop with his feet, the Atletico ‘keeper getting it behind for a corner. From the set-piece, Koscielny snatches at one as the ball finds its way across the area.

25Mins

Marseille have hit the front in their semi-final against Salzburg, with former West Ham striker Dimitri Payet giving the French side a perfect start.

26Mins

24 mins – A controlled and dominant start from Arsenal but they’ve been far from clinical in front of goal with a number of glorious chances spurned, while Jan Oblak has made a couple of smart stops. Patience may be the name of the game tonight for the Gunners.

34Mins

30 mins — Ozil is linking with Lacazette and Welbeck between the lines beautifully, the German popping up in space regularly and causing huge problems for the Atletico defence. On this occasion, Monreal tries his luck as Ramsey’s cross finds its way to the back-post, but the Spaniard’s effort is off target.

32Mins

32 mins – A word of warning for Arsenal: Atletico still carry a lethal threat at the other end. Griezmann, who has hardly had a touch to this juncture, drops back and unleashes a low drive which forces Ospina to get down low to his left.

36Mins

34 mins – The tackles are flying in and although Arsenal are dominating, it remains scoreless. The Gunners have had 13 shots on goal already but are still searching for the breakthrough goal.

38Mins

35 mins – If there was ever a team you’d back to get a result even with a man down, it would be Simeone’s Atletico. They’re really digging in here and have taken the initial sting out of Arsenal’s bright start.

41Mins

37 mins — Chance! Arsenal have dominated the ball but very nearly fall behind as Atletico again show how dangerous they can be as Partey forces his way through, and the it falls to Griezmann, who will be disappointed he fired straight at Ospina from 12 yards out. The visitors have really grown into this game.

42Mins

40 mins – Mustafi gives away a free and Atletico work it out wide through Koke and then Kevin Gameiro looks to angle it past Ospina, but was unable to get enough purchase on his header. The complexion of this game has suddenly changed, with Arsenal now looking vulnerable.

Flag 45Mins

Half-time: Arsenal 0-0 Atletico Madrid 

No shortage of talking points during that first half as Sime Vrsaljko saw red after just 10 minutes and then Diego Simeone was sent to the stands after losing the plot on the touchline.

Arsenal have dominated proceedings and have had plenty of chances, but have struggled to break Atletico’s resilient rearguard down.

45Mins

Flag 47Mins

KICK OFF! Teams are back out and we’re underway again at the Emirates.

46Mins

46 mins – Atletico have started the second half like they ended the first; on the front foot. Arsenal fans trying to lift their side.

52Mins

49 mins – Simeone continues to pace up and down at the top of the steps in the VIP area after getting sent off in the first half. It doesn’t seem to have affected his side, however, as they continue to work tirelessly and stand firm.

55Mins

52 mins – Even with a man less, Atletico are so well-drilled and organised. They’re sitting tight, in their rigid defensive formation, and when in possession retaining the ball and making Arsenal work to get it back. It’s gone a bit flat inside the Emirates again.

58Mins

57 mins – Much better from Arsenal, as they up the tempo and look to stretch 10-man Atletico. After working it well, Xhaka looks for Ozil at the back post but the German opts to take it on the volley and isn’t helped by the tight angle.

60Mins

58 mins – Atletico continue to stand firm, their obdurate defence refusing to buckle under the pressure. It’s pretty much attack versus defence at the moment, and Arsenal are really struggling to break the Spanish side down.

Flag 63Mins

GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Atletico (Lacazette)

Finally! Jack Wilshere provides the inspiration as he finds space to cross for Lacazette, who beats Oblak with a downward header. Arsenal eventually get their reward, and you can’t say it hasn’t been coming.

65Mins

62 mins – Arsenal deserved that and what a big goal it was. Atletico gave it away in a dangerous area and Wilshere played a smart one-two, before digging out a cross for the French striker, who rose to power beyond Oblak.

66Mins

64 mins – Ozil drops the shoulder and glides past Giménez before pulling it back, where Welbeck is denied by a last-ditch tackle. The visitors are making their first change, with Gabi coming on for Gameiro.

70Mins

There’s been a second goal at the Stade Velodrome and Clinton Njie has put Marseille 2-0 up against Salzburg. Dimitri Payet again heavily involved.

71Mins

68 mins – Arsenal going for the jugular now. Lacazette, who has been superb all evening, fires it across the six-yard box but Welbeck is just unable to stretch and get on the end of it.

76Mins

75 mins – Another change from Simeone, and it’s another defensive one. Former Man City defender Stefan Savic is on for Angel Correa as the visitors look to hold out. 15 minutes remaining.

Flag 84Mins

GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Atletico (Griezmann)

Out of nothing, Atletico strike and have a crucial away goal! The visitors have hardly had a kick in the second half but Koscielny fails to deal with a ball over the top and after the ball comes back off Ospina, Griezmann finishes over Mustafi. Disaster for Arsenal.

85Mins

84 mins – That is criminal from Arsenal as they shoot themselves in the foot. So, so poor.

87Mins

86 mins – Griezmann has just made way for Fernando Torres. Just four minutes remaining and Arsenal are looking for a goal to take a lead to Madrid.

87Mins

86 mins – This would be a draw that feels like a defeat for Arsenal. They’re pushing for a late winner though…

87Mins

87 mins — SAVE! What a stop from Oblak as he claws Ramsey’s header away when it looked destined for the top corner.

93Mins

90Mins

90 mins – Into three minutes of injury time at the Emirates. Ramsey has another header on goal but it’s straight at the ‘keeper.

So after dominating from start to finish, Arsenal throw away a precious lead and that 1-1 draw must feel like a defeat for the Gunners. It sets it up nicely for next week’s return leg, and until then goodbye!

About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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