Atletico Madrid End Arsenal’s Dreams Of Winning A Silverware This Season After A Home Win In the Europa League To Qualify For The Finals

A frustrating night for Arsenal. They huffed and they puffed, but it was not to be. You could argue that they were the better team as they travelled to the defensive fortress that is Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid

But as the Gunners attempted to give Arsene Wenger the dream send-off after his 22 years in north London, it was their game-management that again let them down.

It was a horribly tense first half. Chances were few and far between, with both teams nervous about conceding that all-important first goal. Atletico Madrid were certainly a little more aggressive now that the numbers were even and they were in the comfort of their own home, but it was still Arsenal who enjoyed the larger share of the possession.

Nevertheless, that did not mean that Atletico had no signs of encouragement. Almost the first moment ended in a home goal as Diego Costa muscled his way past Laurent Koscielny and through Nacho Monreal, only to skew his tight-angled shot high and wide of the near post.

Soon after, Koscielny went down holding his Achilles. It was a non-contact injury, though perhaps helped by his prior clash with Costa, and certainly looked ugly. That introduced Calum Chambers. Not the nicest game to be thrown into at such short notice.

The goal came from a Jan Oblak clearance. Calum Chambers should have headed the clearance into the stands. Instead, he tried to cutely knock it down into the midfield.

The ball eventually fell to Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman span inside and looked up to see Diego Costa streaking ahead of Hector Bellerin, who was first stood in a too-advanced position and then fell asleep when he had the chance to recover that position.

The pass was perfect, the touch was perfect, the finish was perfect, clipped over the onrushing David Ospina. It was typical Arsenal. The tie was not over. A goal was still required at this point. But it as certainly not made any easier by such a stupid lapse in concentration.

Their pressing for the equaliser, however, did not come without chances at the other end: Diego Costa couldn’t quite generate the power from a free header from a corner; Calum Chambers and then Nacho Monreal made last-ditch efforts to clear and block efforts from the gnarly centre-forward; Antoine Griezmann sees his close-range shot brilliantly blocked by Chambers, with the ball bouncing up into the grateful hands of David Ospina.

As the game progressed, Arsenal clearly tired, especially in the midfield area. They started to go a little too direct, giving cheap possession back to Atletico, not allowing themselves to build attacks through the midfield zones.

In fact, it was Atletico who looked more likely to score with Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann continuing to link up well on the counter-attack.

Arsenal may have only been one goal away from taking this match to extra-time, but they looked unlikely to get it. Atletico were beginning to play the clock, winning free-kicks to waste time, feigning cramp and other such injuries. It is never particularly nice to see, but it was telling in contrast to the naivety in which Arsenal managed this game.

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