Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette
Subs: Cech, Holding, Iwobi, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Nketiah
Arsenal’s defensive frailties came to the fore again as a late Antoine Griezmann goal cancelled out Alexandre Lacazette’s opener, as 10 man Atletico got themselves a 1-1 draw at the Emirates this evening.
Arsene Wenger picked the expected line-up for his final European game at the Emirates Stadium, with David Ospina getting the nod in goal ahead of Petr Cech.
Vrsaljko picked up a 2nd minute yellow card for a foul on Jack Wilshere, and after a confident start the Gunners made two good chances inside a minute. First, Welbeck crossed with his left foot from the left hand side, Lacazette was there at the back post but he put it into the ground and wide.
Then, Monreal crossed from the left, Lacazette was there again, his header was curling away from the keeper but Oblak made a fantastic save. Then, amazingly, Vrsaljko got a second yellow card for a foul on Lacazette and the visitors were down to 10 men in the 10th minute.
Diego Simeone was furious, and when he adjudged Hector Bellerin to have committed a foul he went ballistic on the sideline and was then promptly sent off by the referee who took exception to his antics.
Bellerin’s dangerous crossing from the right tested the Atletico defence, Ramsey had a shot blocked from inside the box, and another excellent Welbeck delivery was met by Wilshere but his header was tame and straight at the keeper.
Welbeck’s movement and a combination with Wilshere saw him fashion a chance which Oblak saved, and when the resulting corner fell to Koscielny at the back post, the captain somehow sliced the ball wide.
Lacazette went over in the box looking for a penalty but it was a bit of a dive in fairness and the referee played on, Ozil shot over from 25 yards in the 25th minute, and Monreal came close with a right footed shot as Arsenal sought the goal their dominance deserved.
Antoine Griezmann had Atletico’s first attempt in the 33rd minute but Ospina was equal to it, and when Monreal gave it away and Partey went on a run, the Colombian keeper had to make a good save to keep out another effort from the French international.
Correa shot over as the first half drew to a close, and despite the dominance in possession and 14 attempts on goal, the teams went in level at the break.
Ramsey had the first attempt of the second half but it didn’t trouble Oblak, and Atletico sat deep, trusting in their defensive capabilities as Arsenal dominated possession and tried to find a way through.
It was getting frustrating, but in the 61st minute we finally went ahead. Ramsey played Wilshere to the byline inside the box, he clipped a cross to the back post, and Lacazette was there to head inside the post. 1-0.
Atletico made a change, sending on Gabi for Gameiro, before Lacazette almost turned provider with a fizzing low cross which went along the 6 yard box, and he nearly had a second from a corner but his header skidded just beyond Oblak’s far post.
The visitors were defending very well, and brought on Savic for Correa to try and keep the scoreline as it was, but Arsenal paid the price for not being ruthless in attack when they conceded an 82nd minute equaliser.
They played a long ball over the top, it weak defending from Koscielny, Ospina saved the original shot, Mustafi slipped and Griezmann was there to put the ball home from close range. 1-1.
Fernando Torres came on for Griezmann as Arsenal looked for another goal to take into the second leg, and it almost came from Ramsey but again Oblak made a great save to deny the Welshman. He had another go, but this one was easier for the Atletico keeper, and that was that.
A real disappointing end to what was a great opportunity to take at least a win into the second leg, and it’s now going to be an uphill task next week in Spain.