Mesut Ozil toys with Atletico Madrid defence, but Arsenal settle for draw
Arsenal were made to pay for a glut of missed chances as they conceded a late goal to draw 1-1 at home with 10-man Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal.
Amid an unusually febrile atmosphere in Arsene Wenger's last home European game, Arsenal started in red-hot form and quickly had a numerical advantage when Sime Vrsaljko received two bookings for wild challenges inside nine minutes. Incredibly, Diego Simeone was dismissed shorty afterwards for his behaviour on the touchline.
Arsenal, roared on by an engaged home support, were ascendant. Alexandre Lacazette hit the post and was then denied by a wonderful save by the amazing Jan Oblak, who made a series of stops. The deluge of chances failed to deliver a goal before the break, though.
Lacazette finally made the breakthrough when heading home from a Jack Wilshere cross, but as more chances came and went for Arsenal, the sucker-punch was delivered by Antoine Griezmann as he ran onto a long ball and slotted home amid some comical defending.
The opening half hour or so was one of the most impressive Arsenal spells in recent years, and the home side were utterly dominant for 80 minutes in total -- all played out in front of a baying, buoyant home support. There was much to admire as Arsenal set about dominating the visitors.
This tie should have been finished after the first leg. A three-goal winning margin would not have flattered Arsenal and their wastefulness may well come back to haunt them in the second leg. Twenty-eight shots, one goal.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- This was a failure of the playing staff, not the manager. Wenger didn't make any changes but that was understandable with Arsenal so dominant in possession. The forwards should have scored more goals and the defending was shocking for the Atleti goal.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David Ospina, 6 -- Kept alert to deny Griezmann twice in the first half, and his distribution was on point. Beaten a bit too easily for the goal when Griezmann eventually rounded him.
DF Hector Bellerin, 6 -- Always made himself available in the final third, even if his final ball was lacking something. Some of his passing was a bit loose.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 5 -- Got the wrong side of Griezmann when the long ball came downfield and couldn't stop his countryman from scoring. A crucial error.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 5 -- Griezmann's shot might have been cleared off the line but Mustafi slipped at the crucial moment. Had been otherwise quite composed.
DF Nacho Monreal, 6 -- Pushed forward with relish and was a useful foil around the box.
MF Granit Xhaka, 8 -- Key to establishing Arsenal's dominance as he spread the ball around with authority. Always found an out ball.
MF Jack Wilshere, 6 -- Combined well enough but Wilshere was also guilty of ceding possession. Would have been pleased to chalk up an assist with his cross for Lacazette.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 6 -- Only impressed in fits and bursts and struggled to wield influence in the penalty area.
FW Mesut Ozil, 8 -- Imperious in the first half as he toyed with the Atleti defence and teased their fans at a corner too. A picture of class throughout.
FW Danny Welbeck, 6 -- His work rate was crucial in pinning Atleti back in the first half but he wasted a glorious chance when failing to slot the ball through Oblak's legs. Bears responsibility for Arsenal failing to come away with a healthy lead.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 -- Scored the goal but had chance after chance and could certainly have done better when seeing a side-footer hit the post. His link-up play was impressive and this was a fine all-round display -- apart from the failure to score another goal.
Tom is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @tomEurosport