Villarreal defeated Arsenal 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semifinal tie at the Madrigal Stadium to give themselves an advantage going into next week’s second leg.
Coached by Europa League expert and former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, Villarreal scored twice in the opening half hour through Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol with Nigerian winger, Samuel Chukwueze providing his 5th assist in the competition this season, the most by any player in this season’s competition. Arsenal were reduced to ten men early in the second half when Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos got his marching orders before the hour mark, before youngster Bukayo Saka won them a penalty after he was fouled in the box. Nicolas Pete duly stepped up and slotted home the penalty for an important away goal in the 73rd minute. Villarreal got a red card of their own when former Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue was sent off in the last 10 minutes of the encounter. Villarreal held on to the lead and head into next week’s second leg with an advantage to protect against an Arsenal side with so much to prove.
The second leg of the encounter at the Emirates Stadium looks like it would be a fiery affair with both sides having a chance to win what is an open affair.