Ten-man Arsenal beaten by former manager Unai Emery but contentious Nicolas Pepe penalty hands Gunners Europa League lifeline

Unai Emery came back to haunt former club Arsenal as the Gunners suffered a 2-1 defeat to Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final clash.

However, the Gunners will be grateful it’s still all to play for as things looked very ominous for them before Nicolas Pepe scored a penalty in the 73rd minute.

Emery came back to haunt former club Arsenal
But Pepe’s goal ensures it’s still all to play for

Goals from Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol put Villarreal 2-0 up in a first half where Arsenal simply didn’t get going.

The first was sloppy defending from the north London side. Granit Xhaka and Ceballos failed to clear the danger as Samuel Chukwueze dribbled in the box and Trigueros slammed in the loose ball.

Just shy of the half-hour mark Arsenal’s deficit was doubled as Albiol fired in from close-range, the defender latching onto Gerard Moreno’s flick-on from a corner from the left.

Arsenal thought they’d won a penalty when Pepe was tripped in the box, however, the decision was overturned as the ball clearly struck Ivory Coast international on the hand.

Villarreal got off to a dream start as Trigueros put them ahead on five minutes
Albiol then put the Yellow Submarine 2-0 up

Mikel Arteta’s side looked dead and buried when Dani Ceballos was sent off on 57 minutes, the Spanish midfielder receiving his second yellow card for standing on Dani Parejo.

Ceballos seemed unaware of Parejo’s presence and Holland said the Arsenal star was ‘unlucky’ to be given his marching orders.

Villarreal then went very close to making it 3-0 but Leno did brilliantly to save Moreno’s effort.

Arsenal were then on the right end of a controversial decision as Trigueros was adjudged to have tripped Bukayo Saka inside the box.

Ceballos was unlucky to be sent off, according to Holland
But Arsenal recovered well from the red card as Pepe got on the scoresheet

The video assistant referee saw no reason to not award the spot-kick, however, Matt Holland said on commentary for talkSPORT 2 that there was ‘no way that was a penalty’. Pepe rolled the ball down the middle to put Arsenal right back in it.

No more goals in Spain but both sides finished the match with ten men as Etienne Capoue received his second yellow for clattering into Saka.

The former Tottenham midfielder came off much worse though as he was stretchered off the pitch after receiving the red card.