Europa League: Villarreal score two first half goals to stun Arsenal 2-1 at the El Madrigal

Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol scored for Unai Emery’s side. Nicolas Pepe got the away goal for Arsenal courtesy of a 73rd minute penalty kick.

Villarreal beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Europa League semi-final first leg match at the El Madrigal on Thursday night; Credit: Twitter/@EuropaLeague

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Villarreal courtesy of two first half goals by Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol. The Europa league semi-final first leg match at the El Madrigal on Thursday saw two players sent off. Dani Ceballos of Arsenal and Villarreal’s Etienne Capoue recevied red card. Nicolas Pepe got the crucial away goal for the English club going into the second leg in north London next week. Unai Emery is in his first season as Villarreal manager after being sacked by Arsenal in November 2019.
Earlier, Trigueros’ low shot from inside the penalty box went past Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno to make it 1-0 for Villarreal in the 5th minute. The Spanish club looked more lively going forward and they got their second goal just before the half-hour mark. Parejo’s corner from left-wing was flicked towards the far post by Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno. Villarreal captain Raul Albiol got on the end of the flick to make it 2-0.
In the midst of it, Arsenal thought they had won a penalty in the 33rd minute, after Nicolas Pepe was fouled by Juan Foyth. But the VAR check revealed a hand ball by Nicolas Pepe before the penalty incident and the referee’s decision was overturned.
Arsenal played with a player less for the last 30 minutes of the match. Dani Ceballos was sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the night for a foul on Parejo. Villarreal put pressure on the 10 man Arsenal side. Chukwueze and Moreno’s attempts from inside the box were well saved by Bernd Leno.
Against the run of play, Bukayo Saka won the penalty for Arsenal. Nicolas Pepe converted the spot kick in the 73rd minute to get the crucial away goal. Seven minutes later, Capoue was shown a second yellow card for clattering into Saka. Both teams played with 10 men for the remaining minutes of the game.
Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli made the most important save of the night in the injury time. He denied substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from inside the area to keep Villarreal’s slender lead intact.
Arsenal will be eager to qualify for their second Europa League final in three years when they host Villarreal at the north London on May 7th. The Unai Emery-led Gunners were beaten by Chelsea in the 2019 final.

Sportslumo Desk

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