Atletico punish profligate Arsenal

Outgoing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lamented a familiar defensive lapse as his side failed to cash in on a man advantage for over 80 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal.

Antoine Griezmann's away goal eight minutes from time is a body blow to Wenger's hopes of bowing out after 22 years on a high in the final on May 16, and Arsenal's chances of playing Champions League football next season.

Sime Vrsaljko's early red card handed the Gunners the initiative, however, they were made to rue a host of missed chances before and after Alexandre Lacazette headed them in front on the hour mark.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone was also sent to the stands shortly after Vrsaljko's dismissal, but the Spaniards resisted manfully and Simeone hailed their resistance.

"You don't have any idea how hard it is to defend and defend and defend," said Simeone. "You have to have huge guts to defend for more than 80 minutes like that. These players of Atletico Madrid are heroes to resist like that."

Arsenal now need to become the first away team to score in 12 matches at Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano stadium next week to progress, and Simeone urged the home support to create an explosive atmosphere.

There was a highly-charged atmosphere for Wenger's penultimate home game in charge and the hosts were given plenty of encouragement early on, even when still up against Atletico's full complement.

Lacazette volleyed off the outside of the post and forced Jan Oblak into the first of a series of fine saves with a header from close range.

Vrsaljko had been booked within two minutes for bringing down Jack Wilshere.

And the Croatian left his side a man light after just 10 minutes when French referee Clement Turpin showed no leniency for another late challenge on Lacazette.

Moments later, Simeone was also dismissed by the officious referee for taking his protests too far when an Arsenal player wasn't booked for what he thought was a similar foul.

Atletico's excellent defensive record is what has carried them to five European semifinals in seven seasons under Simeone.

The visitors battened down the hatches with 10 men, but were reliant on Oblak, who Wenger described as "one of the best goalkeepers in the world", to keep them in the tie.

Arsenal could and should have added to their lead, but instead some comical defending cost them dearly when Atletico grabbed a vital away goal.

Griezmann outmuscled French international team-mate Laurent Koscielny and then benefited from a slip by Shkodran Mustafi after his initial effort had been saved by David Ospina to prod his 27th goal of the season into the roof of the net.

There was still time for Oblak to show why Griezmann isn't the only Atletico player wanted by Europe's elite with a spectacular one-handed save to turn Aaron Ramsey's header behind and keep Los Rojiblancos on course for a third European final in five seasons.

Payet shines

Olympique de Marseille's Dimitri Payet set up both goals as he guided them to an impressive 2-0 home win over Salzburg in the first leg of their semifinal.

Florian Thauvin headed in Payet's free kick after 15 minutes and Clinton Njie calmly slotted home in the 63rd to put Marseille in the driving seat against the Austrian champions.

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Atletico punish profligate Arsenal

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