Arsenal denied as late equalizer leaves Europa League fate in suspense

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Arsenal conceded a late away goal as they failed to maintain an advantage in the first leg in a 1-1 draw with Slavia Prague in the Europa League quarter-finals.

A number of missed opportunities were to blame as they failed to build momentum. However, Nicolas Pepe came from the bench to give some hope with a late goal. But Slavia responded with an equalizer to undo the hosts’ efforts.

Arsenal entered the game after a 3-0 loss to Liverpool in the Premier League. A reaction was needed and Mikel Arteta made the big call to leave captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench.

It was one of six changes the Gunners made, with Willian among those to return.

Slavia, meanwhile, had already caused problems for Britain’s Leicester and Rangers teams in the last two rounds. Their goal was to take the first step towards claiming another scalp.

The Czech team made the first decent attempt of the game, when Lukas Provod lifted the ball over the bar.

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Arsenal were probing, but had not yet really tested the opposition keeper. For example, there was some good work from Bukayo Saka on the right wing, but his cross was not met by any teammate.

They started to show more intensity as the half progressed. A chance arose when Thomas Partey carried the ball on the field, before setting up Alexandre Lacazette whose shot did not target.

A free kick to the edge of the box looked appealing to Arsenal, but they couldn’t use it immediately. However, as the game was recycled, it led to a chance. Cedric Soares passed from the left and Rob Holding forced a good save from Ondrej Kolar with a header.

The tempo increases in the second half

After a fairly calm first half, the second half started with more excitement. Willian hit the post with a free kick, for example.

Slavia were also asking questions, with captain Jan Boril pulling a save from Bernd Leno at the end of a forward-thinking move.

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Arsenal then had a golden chance when Lacazette regained possession on the halfway line. With a clean run to goal, he ruffled his lines and hit the woodwork.

Lacazette had another chance after a low cross from Saka, but once again missed the target.

Partey was the next to try his luck, but he was aiming wide after trying his luck from outside the box.


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At the other end, Arsenal failed to clear their lines, giving Petr Sevcik a chance. However, the substitute also dismissed his shot.

Arsenal had a complex game on their next attack, but it culminated with Aubameyang – freshly substituted – deflecting the ball off.

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Substitute Gabriel Martinelli let fly with a mighty effort, but he was still going up and Kolar covered him, causing him to tip behind.

As the game entered its final five minutes, Arsenal finally got the breakthrough. Pepe was slipped by Aubameyang after a heist game and the Ivorian hit the ball on Kolar.

However, just as it looked like they would head into next week’s second leg with a big advantage, Slavia scored a crucial away goal.

Leno had to beat an effort from Provod, which led to a corner kick. As the game crumbled, Tomas Holes snuck up to the back post to pass the Arsenal keeper and make it 1-1.

This leaves the game delicately balanced ahead of next week’s reunion.

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