Unai Emery gained the primary battle in opposition to his former membership on Thursday as Villarreal defeated Arsenal 2-1 within the first leg of the Europa League semifinals.
Manu Trigueros and Raúl Albiol scored first-half targets to offer the Spanish membership the sting forward of subsequent week’s second leg in London. The English aspect pulled one nearer with a penalty kick transformed by Nicolas Pepe within the 73rd.
“We performed a superb match,” Emery mentioned. “It’s a bit unfair that we didn’t get a greater end result, but it surely’s nonetheless a victory and we are going to attempt to end the job within the second match.”
Arsenal bought the essential away aim whereas taking part in with 10 males as Dani Ceballos was despatched off with a second yellow card within the 57th. Villarreal then had midfielder Etienne Capoue despatched off with a second reserving within the 80th.
“In the long run we allowed them to remain alive,” Trigueros mentioned. “We gained, however wanting on the match we must always have completed higher. They depart with a much bigger prize than they deserved.”
Villarreal is making its fifth try to achieve a European ultimate, having failed on all earlier events, together with in opposition to Arsenal within the 2006 Champions League and in opposition to Liverpool within the 2016 Europa League.
Arsenal is attempting to return to the Europa League ultimate for the second time in three years after dropping the title to Chelsea in 2019 whereas below Emery’s command. That ultimate was one of many highlights of the Spanish coach throughout his turbulent 18 months with Arsenal. He’s in his first season with Villarreal after being fired by the English membership in November 2019.
Emery has thrived within the Europa League, having led Sevilla to a few straight titles from 2014-16.
There have been few vital scoring possibilities for both group on the Cerâmica stadium, however the hosts capitalized on their alternatives within the first half.
Villarreal opened the scoring 5 minutes into the match, with Trigueros discovering the web with a low shot from inside the realm after the Arsenal protection did not clear the ball inside the realm.
Villarreal added to the lead with Albiol scoring from shut vary off a nook kick within the 29th. The defender discovered the web after striker Gerard Moreno deflected the nook kick cross towards the far submit.
Pepe’s aim got here after a controversial penalty as Trigueros was adjudged to have tripped Bukayo Saka.
“It’s clear that it wasn’t a penalty,” Emery mentioned. “Perhaps they didn’t need to name again one other penalty after what occurred within the first half. The penalty actually damage us.”
Arsenal, led by Spanish coach Mikel Arteta, thought it had a penalty kick towards the tip of the primary half however the name was reversed after a video evaluation confirmed there was a handball by Pepe earlier than the foul occurred.
Arsenal’s hopes of rallying appeared to take a success when Ceballos was despatched off for stepping on the leg of Villarreal playmaker Dani Parejo whereas attempting to win the ball. However then Capoue was despatched off for a foul on Saka. The Villarreal participant was injured throughout the identical incident and needed to depart the sector on a stretcher.
“After the way in which the sport developed, it’s important to take the end result,” Arteta mentioned.
Moreno practically added the third aim for the hosts lower than 10 minutes after Ceballos was despatched off, however his close-range shot was brilliantly saved by Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Arsenal had one ultimate clear likelihood however substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s try from inside the realm was saved by Villarreal goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli.
“There’s a variety of positives that got here within the second half,” Saka mentioned. “We’ve given ourselves an opportunity at dwelling.”