- Villareal vs Arsenal's Europa League semifinal first-leg clash ended in a 2-1 win for the La Liga team
- Goals from Manuel Trigueros and Raul Albiol ensured Nicolas Pepe's goal ended a consolation in the game
- Mikel Arteta's men will hope for a better result when both sides clash again at the Emirates Stadium next week
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Nicolas Pepe gave Arsenal genuine hopes of making the Europa League final after his penalty have the Gunners a crucial away goal against Villareal on Thursday, April 29.
Arsenal looked done and dusted after going 2-0 down to their former boss Unai Emery’s side and things took a turn for the worse when Dani Ceballos was sent off in the 57th minute.
Mikel Arteta’s boys had a poor start to the game at the Estadio de la Ceramica, and some lazy defending allowed Manuel Trigueros to smash home the opener from inside the box as early as the fifth minute.
Raul Albiol then doubled the yellow submarine’s lead close to the half-hour mark from close range following Gerard Moreno’s flick from a corner.
Albiol’s goal looked to have completely buried Arsenal, whose best chance at Champions League football next season is to win the Europa League.
Arsenal were second best for large spells of the game and with 30 minutes to go, Dani Ceballos was given his marching orders for standing on the boot of Daniel Parejo.
The game looked to be over for the North London side from then but some brilliant saves from Bernd Leno kept them in the tie.
Nicolas Pepe, who had a penalty decision overturned in the first half, had his say in the match as he scored from the penalty spot 17 minutes from time after Bukayo Saka was tripped in the box to make it 2-1.
The goal changed the complexion of the game as Arsenal continued to go forward, searching for an equaliser.
Villareal were also reduced to 10-men after former Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue was shown a second yellow card for a late tackle on Saka.
Despite their best efforts, Arsenal had to settle for a 2-1 defeat, although they will carry a precious away goal to the second leg next Thursday.
Legit.ng earlier reported that Spanish giants Barcelona were handed a shock defeat at the Camp Nou as Granada put up a sensational performance to win 2-1.
It was a fight to finish on Thursday, April 29, but the Catalan giants failed to claim victory that would have put them on top of the standings.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, but the visitors responded twice in the second half courtesy Darwin Machis and Jorge Molina.