A late Antoine Griezmann equaliser means we have it all to do in the second leg after a frustrating draw in our Europa League semi-final with Atletico Madrid.
Alex Lacazette gave us the lead in a match that we dominated against the 10-man La Liga side, but the late goal has put a different complexion on the tie.
We were expecting drama, and drama is what we got almost straight from the first whistle during a fast, furious and frenetic first half.
Within two minutes, Atletico right-back Sime Vrsaljko had been booked and not long after that he was given his marching orders for a late challenge on Lacazette.
Sandwiched between those incidents, the Arsenal striker had volleyed one shot narrowly wide and seen a close-range header clawed away by Jan Oblak.
It was combustible atmosphere and the visitors’ manager, Diego Simeone, soon saw red himself after remonstrating vociferously towards the referee as he called for Jack Wilshere to be booked.
Everything was going our way, but we just couldn’t find a way through as Wilshere sent a header straight at the Atletico keeper, before the electric Danny Welbeck was denied by the Slovenia international moments later.
Laurent Koscielny would soon slice one wide, before Nacho Monreal saw a volley whistle past the post as we continued to pile on the pressure.
Atletico would go close themselves before the first half was out, with Antoine Griezmann’s powerful shot beaten away by a previously underemployed David Ospina.
We continued to dominate after the restart, and finally had our reward just past the hour mark when Wilshere played a neat one-two on the edge of the arewa and sent a deep cross to the back post.
It was a crowded area but Lacazette muscled his way into position and diverted his header into the corner, sparking jubilant scenes inside the Emirates.
Lacazette went close to doubling our advantage in the 70th minute as he met Xhaka’s inswinging corner, but his glancing header flew inches wide of the far post.
It was one-way traffic but with seven minutes remaining Griezmann equalised after squeezing past Koscielny and Ospina and firing into the roof of the net.
Ramsey went close to restoring our lead with three minutes remaining but saw his header clawed around the post by Oblak, and in the end we had to settle for a share of the spoils.
HOW IT HAPPENED
We travel to Old Trafford on Sunday to face Manchester United, before jetting off to Madrid for the second leg of this Europa League semi-final.
CHANCES, CHANCES, CHANCES
We created chance after chance during a high-octane encounter at the Emirates, and here are the key opportunities:
6 –Xhaka wins the ball on the left and feeds Welbeck, who curls in a superb ball to Lacazette who volleys it just wide
7 – Monreal curls in a fine ball from the left this time and Lacazette’s header is palmed away by Oblak
16 – Lacazette heads over from a good cross from Monreal
18 – Ozil feeds Welbeck to the left of the area, and he cuts back on to his right foot and curls it towards Wilshere, whose header is straight at Oblak
21 – Welbecks plays a lovely one-two with Wilshere in the area, takes a touch and sets himself but Oblak makes a fine save
21 – The resulting corner is flicked on and comes to Koscielny at the back post but he slices it wide
31 –Ramsey swings in a ball from the right, Lacazette touches it on and Monreal volleys just wide
37 – Partey makes a fine run past three players before the ball breaks to Griezmann in the area, and his first-time shot is saved by Ospina
61 – GOAL – Lacazette rises highest in the area to meet Wilshere’s cross to the back post, and he sends his header past Oblak
70 – So close as Lacazette meets Xhaka’s corner and glances a header just past the far post
83 – Goal – Atletico equalise as Griezmann gets past Koscielny and Ospina and fires into the roof of the net
87 – Ramsey goes so close with a glancing header but Oblak makes a fine save to push it around the post
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.