Arsenal 1-2 Olympiacos (2-2 agg): Gunners crash OUT

Arsenal 1-2 Olympiacos (2-2 agg): Gunners crash OUT of the Europa League on away goals as Youssef El-Arabi scores dramatic late winner in extra-time just minutes after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thought he had sent them through with stunning overhead kick

  • Youssef El-Arabi scored a dramatic late winner to send Olympiacos into the Europa League last-16
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thought he had sent Arsenal through with a stunning overhead kick late on
  • Olympiacos’ Pape Abou Cisse gave the visitors the lead on the night at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday
  • Mikel Arteta’s side can now only qualify for the Champions League via the Premier League after going out 

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang stood in the centre circle – the ball at his feet, his mouth open through a cocktail of exhaustion and disbelief. Incredulity swept around three corners of the Emirates.

In the other tiny pocket of this ground, bedlam ensued. Limbs everywhere, voices hoarse, the Olympiacos bench virtually empty.

For six extra-time minutes Arsenal were on course for the last 16 of the Europa League thanks to their captain’s latest rescue act. After a night of tension, his stunning bicycle kick looked to have saved their blushes in incredible fashion. By full-time he looked close to tears, after Youssef El Arabi popped up to break Arsenal hearts at the death. 

Youssef El-Arabi scored a dramatic late winner in extra-time to knock Arsenal out of the Europa League on Thursday

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta looks distraught as his side conceded a late goal and are knocked out of the Europa League

El-Arabi wheels away in celebration after placing the ball into the bottom corner in the last minute of extra-time

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (front) looks dejected having missed a glorious chance in the last seconds to score the winner

Aubameyang scored a stunning overhead kick in what he thought was the goal that sent them through before El-Arabi’s goal

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Leno 6.5; Bellerin 6 (Willock 84, 6), Mustafi 6 (Sokratis 103, 6), Luiz 5.5, Saka 6.5; Ceballos 5.5 (Torreira 72, 6.5), Xhaka 6; Pepe 6, Ozil 5.5, Aubameyang 7; Lacazette 5

Manager: Mikel Arteta 5

OLYMPIACOS (4-3-3): Jose Sa 6; Elabdellaoui 6, Ba 5.5, Cisse 6.5, Tsimikas 6.5; Bouchalakis 6, Camara 6, Guilherme 6.5; Randjelovic 6 (Masouras 77, 7), El Arabi 6, Valbuena 6.5 (Gospar 5.5)

Manager: Pedro Martins 6.5

REFEREE: Davide Massa (Ita) – 6

Somehow, from somewhere, there was still time for Aubameyang to miss a sitter after a loose ball fell his way, a few yards out, the goal gaping. He skewed his shot wide and with that went Arsenal’s hopes for good.

Now, forget the luxury boxes and expensive dining spots around the Emirates’ middle tier, Arsenal had a joined a club more exclusive than most.

Before last night, Ukrainian giants Chornomorets Odesa were the solitary team in European football who had beaten Olympiacos in Athens and gone on to surrender a knockout continental tie to the Greek outfit.

That came in the 1992/93 European Cup Winners’ Cup. This was rather more shattering.

Now their hopes of rejoining the Champions League – and, who knows, keeping Aubameyang? – hang by a thread.

Earlier, Pape Abou Cisse sent the tie to extra time with a simple second-half header.

With penalties looming, Aubameyang struck. But disaster followed close.

Olympiakos were never going to come here and lie down. They are unbeaten in the league all season and won on their last visit here – back in September 2015.

But this Arsenal were supposed to be made of sterner stuff. Under Arteta they were supposed to have more guile and more game intelligence. When it mattered last night, those qualities betrayed them.

They failed to kill the tie and paid the price.

Olympiacos’ Pape Abou Cisse gave the visitors the lead on the night at the Emirates and levelled the scores on aggregate

Cisse ran into the Arsenal penalty area from a corner unmarked and volleyed the ball into the bottom corner unchallenged

And now, for the first time in 18 European ties in which they have brought a first-leg lead back to north London, they have crashed out. The tremors of this defeat could be felt for some time.

For all the strides they have made, Arteta knew how quickly bubbles can burst.

Arsenal had begun the night in the ascendancy and began on the front foot here, too.

The visitors’ was desperate at times in the first half, never more so than when Lacazette slid Pepe through on goal. With two defenders at his back, Pepe was hauled down on the edge of the box.

The home fans wanted red for Ousseynou Ba, the referee gave yellow.

It was a let-off for Olympiacos, who had to score following defeat in the first leg.

That 1-0 loss was their first since a previous visit to London, against Spurs in the Champions League in November. As long as it remained goalless, though, they were in the tie.

That unnerved the home crowd, who grew restless – particularly after Mohamed Camara wasted his shooting chance after being put through down the left.

Nicolas Pepe runs clean through on goal and looks as though he is going to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper but is fouled

Referee Davide Massa hands out a yellow card to Olympiakos’ Ousseynou Ba (right) for the challenge on the edge of the box

So relief swept around the ground when Lacazette had the ball in the net minutes later. Like in Athens, Bukayo Saka fed the striker. But this time the flag was up – both had strayed offside.

How they paid the price.

Seven minutes into the second half, from Mathieu Valbuena’s corner, Cisse was allowed a clear run and free header. Suddenly the Olympiacos fans at that end smelt blood.

Moments later, amid the din, Bernd Leno was forced into a diving one-hand save after a weaving run and testing effort from Kostas Tsimikas.

Arsenal responded, pushing the visitors back with wave after wave of attack. With 15 minutes to go, Pepe mustered their first shot on target before Lacazette failed to connect properly with two bites at the cherry from close range. At the other end, only two vital interceptions from a stretching Shkodran Mustafi denied Olympiacos golden opportunities to kill the tie for good.

By extra time, the pattern was set. Arsenal huffed and puffed, while the visitors dug in and looked for opportunities to counter.

It was Olympiakos who came closest, Giorgos Masouras’ curling effort from outside the box, beat Leon and clipped the top of the bar. That was until Ozil’s cross found Aubameyang. And then El Arabi turned this tie on its head once more.

Lazar Randjelovic of Olympiakos and Bukayo Saka of Arsenal compete for the ball during the early exchanges on Thursday

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil tries to control the ball as he looks to steer his side into the next round of the competition

Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe, left, and Olympiakos’ Kostas Tsimikas challenge for the ball during the last-32 Europa League game

Youssef El Arabi of Olympiacos FC and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal in action at the Emirates Stadium

Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal and Mathieu Valbuena of Olympiacos in action during the first half at the Emirates Stadium

David Luiz of Arsenal FC battles for possession with Lazar Randelovic of Olympiacos FC during the Europa League clash

Granit Xhaka of Arsenal battles for possession with Lazar Randelovic of Olympiacos during the game on Thursday

Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi and Olympiakos’ Youssef El-Arabi challenge for the ball during the match

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin tries to beat Olympiacos’ Kostas Tsimikas for pace in the early exchanges on Thursday

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article