Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger after 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in what could be his epitaph after 22 years: We started well with pace and drive – but it all went wrong in the end
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has been talking after the 1-1 draw with ten-man Atletico Madrid in the firs leg of the Europa League semi-final.
A dejected looking Arsene Wenger rounded off his final European home match in charge of Arsenal the way he started it – with a 1-1 draw.
The Frenchman who has been in charge for 22 years marked his first UEFA Cup game at Highbury in September 1997 with a 1-1 draw with PAOK Salonika – and went out with the same scoreline after Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann levelled for the visitors.
Earlier Alexandre Lacazette had headed the Gunners in front in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final on 61 minutes at a raucous Emirates on a night of high drama.
The Croatian international Sime Vrsaljko had been booked by French referee Clement Turpin after only two minutes after a foul on Jack Wilshere but eight minutes later he stamped on Lacazette’s foot to give the official no option but to send him off.
The sending off was the fifth fastest in the European League but there was more drama to come as a clearly incensed Simeone took umbrage after a Hector Bellerin tackle on Lucas Hernandez.
He rounded on the referee to brandish a card for the Arsenal player – but the referee sent the former Argentine defender to the stands, as his assistants became livid.
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However the loss of discipline did not stop Atleti from holding out in a frantic match, as Arsenal failed to increase their lead.
Reflecting on the display afterwards a dejected Wenger said: “The result was not in line with the performance. Once we went 1-0 up we had to be careful about the long ball.
“We have to look at ourselves. 1-0 would have been the perfect result. For us the task is clear [in Madrid]. But we had chances to be in the final.
It is frustrating. We had not to force it. We had to stay 1-0 up. We had chances in the first half. It was not to our advantage [the sending off]. I must our fans were fantastic. We created the anti-climax.”
Wenger added, in what could be an epitaph for his reign at Arsenal: “We started well with good pace and drive. The whole thing went wrong at the end.”