We were unable to break down a resolute and determined Villarreal side at the Emirates, to crash out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage.
Needing to overturn a 2-1 defeat from the first leg in Spain, we twice hit the woodwork through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but ultimately failed to work the keeper enough on a frustrating evening.
It was a cautious, almost nervy approach from both sides early on. The first scare came when Bernd Leno had to hurriedly head clear an overhit back pass from Thomas Partey, that almost lobbed his own keeper.
There was very little between the sides in the opening half hour - but with Aubameyang's first real involvement we could have taken the lead. A poor defensive clearance fell straight to the skipper, and his first-time shot beat the keeper, but bounced to safety off the post.
Aubameyang was then set free by Emile Smith Rowe on the counter, and his shot nearly squirmed through the grasp of Geronimo Rulli, but the Villarreal keeper grabbed it at the second attempt.
But in terms of goalmouth action, that was about it from a low-key first half.
We showed more intent at the start of the second half, and Nicolas Pepe fired a low drive wide after being set up by Kieran Tierney inside the box.
Smith Rowe then missed a great opportunity, lifting his shot just over the bar when the ball fell to him with the keeper prone on the floor.
The game was already more lively than in the first half, and the visitors were next to threaten - thankfully Gerard Moreno shot tamely at Leno from a central position.
Our bright start to the second half had fizzled out. Rob Holding headed over from a corner and moments later headed just wide from 15 yards or so out.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes we threw more caution to the wind. Substitute Martinelli thrashed an effort wide before Aubameyang headed against the post.
Willian and Alexandre Lacazette were then introduced as Mikel Arteta went for broke.
But there was to be no late dramatic winner, and we exited in heart-breaking fashion.
HOW IT HAPPENED
There were three changes from the side that started the first leg in Spain last week.
Dani Ceballos missed out through suspension, and in came Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – leading the line up front after his goal at St James Park on Sunday.
The other changes came in defence, where Hector Bellerin replaced Calum Chambers at right back, and just before kick-off Kieran Tierney came in for Granit Xhaka at left back, after the Swiss pulled up injured in the warm up.
It was Tierney's first appearance after missing seven games while Alexandre Lacazette – himself missing for three matches – was fit enough to return to the bench.
WHAT IT MEANS
Our chances of silverware this season are over, as we fall at the semi-final stage of the Europa League to a Spanish side - just as we did in 2018 to Atletico Madrid. We now just have four games remaining this season and our chances of being in European competition again next year depend on us achieving a top seven place in the Premier League. We are currently five points behind seventh-placed Liverpool, who also have a game in hand.
We are back at Emirates Stadium to take on West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Sunday. All of our remaining four league games will be played in London, as we travel to Chelsea and Crystal Palace before hosting Brighton on the final day, on May 23.
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