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ARSENAL 1-2 VILLAREAL EUROPA LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL 1ST LEG

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VILLAREAL 2-1 ARSENAL
Nicolas Pepe’s second-half penalty gave Arsenal renewed hope of reaching the Europa League final despite a semi-final first-leg loss at Villarreal as both sides finished with 10 men.

With the Gunners trailing 2-0 and a man down following Dani Ceballos’ sending off, Pepe stepped up and fired home a precious away goal from the spot after Bukayo Saka had been tripped in the box.

It means Mikel Arteta’s side go into next Thursday’s second leg with genuine hope of reaching a second Europa League final in three seasons and with the potential of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

They appeared to be sinking without trace when Manu Trigueros fired in an early low, angled drive for the home side before Raul Albiol slammed home at the back post following Gerard Moreno’s flick-on from a corner.

Ceballos’ red card with 30 minutes left, courtesy of a second booking for standing on the boot of Daniel Parejo, looked to have sealed their fate.

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