Arsenal Paid the price for their lack of clinical finishing as Atletico Madrid snatched a dramatic draw at Emirates on Thursday in Europa League semi final.
Sime Vrsaljko was shown two yellow cards within the first ten minutes but Gunners paid price for a sloppy mistake in defence.
Antoine Griezmann, slipping silently through Arsenal’s defence after 83 minutes, provided the brutal, excruciating reminder.
Atletico Madrid, down to ten men and without their coach Diego Simeone after he was sent off, did a number on Arsenal.
He scored the equaliser, evading the sliding challenges of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi to score a crucial away goal.
It was a belting finish, lifted into the roof of David Ospina’s net seven minutes from the end of this fiery first leg.
They are still level on aggregate, but everybody at the Emirates knows they need the miracle of Madrid now.
It is a shame because Arsenal worked so hard to establish a 61st minute lead given to them by Alexandre Lacazette.
This being Arsenal, against stellar European opposition, they could not hold on to it.
Lacazette separated these two warring clubs when he headed Arsenal’s goal beyond Jan Oblak after 61 angsty minutes.
The goal lifted the Emirates, with the fans running up and down stairwells celebrating Lacazette’s strike.
For a time, they wondered whether it would ever come. Atletico were a man down after 10 minutes, one short for the rest of this first leg after right back Sime Vrsaljko was sent off.
Everybody’s gameplan went out of the window after that. That nutjob Simeone, with steam coming out of his ears on the touchline, followed Vrsaljko down the tunnel three minutes later
Simeone had given French referee Clement Turpin a mouthful, giving him a gutful from the sidelines for a full three minutes after Vrsaljko’s dismissal.
After that, Atletico and their players disgraced themselves. They tried to turn this into a masterclass in the dark arts and for a long time, Arsenal could not do a thing about it.
What followed next was a steady stream of first half chances for Arsenal. Lacazette hit the outside of the post, steering the effort on to the woodwork when he connected with Danny Welbeck’s cross.
Oblak, Atletico’s highly-rated keeper, saved point blank from the Arsenal forward the Nacho Monreal swung in a cross from the left.
He got there in the end, scoring just after the hour. Arsenal were up for this, determined to establish a first leg lead in Wenger’s final European home game.
When Simeone was sent off after 13 minutes – when Turpin failed to give a free kick when Hector Bellerin was running around rattling cages – Atletico were all over the shop.
Oblak had to save with his legs again and Laurent Koscielny failed to connect properly at the far post when Aaron Ramsey flicked a corner on.
Thing is, the more frustrated Arsenal became, the more Atletico grew into it.
Griezmann finally made a meaningful contribution, forcing a decent save out of David Ospina just after half an hour.