Arsenal’s hopes of lifting the Europa league this season took a serious hit as they were beaten 3-1 by Rennes in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie at Roazhon Park
The Gunners had a great start to the game as Alex Iwobi put them ahead within the first 3 minutes of the game. But that was the only joyous moment for the London club in a disastrous night. Their troubles began when defender Sokratis papastathopoulos was given marching orders in the 41st minute for 2 yellows in quick succession. Benjamin Bourigeaud leveled the scores in the very next minute. Thereafter, Nacho Monreal’s own goal in the 65th minute gave the home side a much deserved lead. And to add to the Gunners’ woes, Ismaila Sarr added another in the 88th minute to make it 3 for the home side
The Gunners have it all to do in the second leg when the French side visit London next week. Only positive from the game was perhaps the important away goal that the Gunners managed to score. A 2-0 victory in the second leg will be enough for the Gunners to qualify for the next round. That will certainly not be easy and the Gunners will have to be at their very best if they are to keep alive their chances of silverware this season. Speaking after the game, Petr Cech said,
“The turning point was the red card because they managed to score from the resulting free-kick,” Cech began, as per the club’s official website. “When we went down to 10 men in the first half, it became a lot more difficult.
“We were unlucky with the second goal because it was an own goal from a deflection, but I thought we were still in the game.
“I think the biggest disappointment is the third goal because at 2-1, you go home and you know that there’s a result where you’ve scored away at home, and you can overcome it. We can still overcome a two-goal deficit because, in the end, the goal we scored might play a big part, but we made it a little bit harder for ourselves.”
Cech was however, full of praise for Mkhitaryan who played most of the game at right back following Sokratis’ departure,
“Henrikh played well there, so credit to him because it’s not his natural position but he’s done very well for the team,” said Cech. Article continues below
“You need to try to find a way to defend well and I thought we did that really well. They had the advantage because they were fresher as they didn’t have any games over the weekend”
The Europa league is Arsenal’s last chance of silverware this season and they will have to produce a strong performance if they are to keep that dream alive.