Nicolas Pepe’s penalty provided a Europa League lifeline for 10-man Arsenal who were beaten 2-1 by Samuel Chukwueze’s Villarreal in the semifinal first leg.
Arsenal endured a dismal first half at Estadio de la Ceramica as poor defending allowed Manuel Trigueros to smash home from inside the box in the 5th minute before Raul Albiol doubled Villarreal’s lead from close range following a corner in the 29th minute.
Arsenal were clearly the underdogs to their former manager Unai Emery’s side and their situation worsened when Dani Ceballos earned a second yellow card for planting his studs on Villarreal’s Dani Parejo early in the second half.
But the Gunners got lucky when Bukayo Saka was tripped by Trigueros to win a penalty which Pepe superbly scored to give the English giants a lifeline in the competition.
Luck seemed to run out for Villarreal as former Watford midfielder Etienne Capoue went in late on Saka to earn his second yellow card in the final 10 minutes of the game.
The second leg will hold on May 5 at the Emirates Stadium.