Arsenal vs Olympiakos FC. UEFA Europa League Round of 32.
Olympiakos FC win on away goals rule
Report as Youssef El Arabi shocks Emirates after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looked to have won the tie
Friday 28 February 2020 08:09, UK
Arsenal were sent crashing out of the Europa League on away goals after Olympiakos stunned Mikel Arteta's side with a 2-1 victory (2-2 on aggregate) to book their place in the last 16.
Leading 1-0 from the first leg, the Gunners, who put in an extremely disjointed display, were pegged back by Pape Abou Cisse's strike (53), which forced the tie to extra-time.
Arsenal thought they had snatched victory late in the second half of extra-time through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's stunning volley, but Youssef El Arabi popped up in the 119th minute to shock the Emirates and cap a historic night for the Greek side.
They now go into the round-of-16 draw, which will take place on Friday, while Arsenal's only remaining hope of Champions League football next season rests on a top-four finish in the Premier League, where they are seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with 11 games of the season remaining.
Arteta named a strong side, including Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil as Arsenal looked to keep their Europa League challenge on track.
Granit Xhaka and Pepe had efforts blocked in quick succession in the early stages, before Pepe was hauled down right on the edge of the penalty area by Ousseynou Ba as he looked to burst through on goal.
Arsenal: Leno (6), Bellerin (5), Mustafi (7), Luiz (6), Saka (6), Ceballos (5), Aubameyang (6), Ozil (5), Pepe (4), Lacazette (5).
Subs: Torreira (6), Willock (6), Sokratis (6), Martinelli (6).
Olympiakos: Jose Sa (7), Elabdellaoui (7), Cisse (8), Ba (8), Tsimikas (8), Bouchalakis (7), Guilherme (7), Camara (7), Randjelovic (7), El Arabi (8), Valbuena (7).
Subs: Masouras (7), Gaspar (6), Lovera (n/a), Papadopoulos (n/a).
Man of the match: Pape Abou Cisse.
Ba was cautioned by referee Davide Massa, but Pepe could not take advantage as his free-kick failed to trouble goalkeeper Jose Sa.
The Gunners, who needed two crucial interventions from Shkodran Mustafi to thwart Olympiakos, started sluggishly and they struggled to find their fluency as Arteta watched on closely from the sidelines.
Arsenal thought they were in front just before half-time as Bukayo Saka crossed for Lacazette to turn home but - unlike the goal from the same combination in Greece a week earlier - this one was correctly ruled out for offside against the full-back.
After a first half with hardly any chances, it was Olympiakos who would stun north London as they look the lead. Mathieu Valbuena put a corner into the middle of the Arsenal box and picked out a completely unmarked Cisse, who guided his header past Bernd Leno.
Olympiakos took confidence from taking the lead and it took until the 77th minute for Arsenal to have their first shot on target, Pepe drawing a smart stop out of Sa, with Lacazette heading the rebound wide with the goal at his mercy.
With the visitors starting to drop deep, substitute Lucas Torreira was next to force Sa into action with a low effort from the edge of the box before a fine last-ditch Tsimikas challenge stopped Ozil from getting a shot away as the game went into extra-time.
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta opted to make just two changes.
The Gunners held a 1-0 lead following Alexandre Lacazette's late winner in Greece and the France striker was recalled in place of Eddie Nketiah.
Bukayo Saka also came back into the starting XI having come off the bench in Sunday's win over Everton for the injured Sead Kolasinac.
Olympiakos substitute Giorgos Masouras clipped the top of Leno's crossbar as the second half of extra-time got under way.
Arsenal were still struggling for rhythm but it would be their main man, Aubameyang, who looked to have rescued their European hopes. Ozil crossed into the middle where Gabriel Martinelli contested a header and the loose ball dropped to Aubameyang to finish with an acrobatic bicycle kick.
However, despite just six minutes remaining, it would not be the end of the drama as El Arabi swept home in the final moments to send the away fans into raptures
There was still time for one more chance and it fell to Aubameyang, but this time the Gunners skipper, who had just the goalkeeper to beat, could only fire wide from six yards out as a chance of silverware and a path to the Champions League disappeared for Arteta and Arsenal.
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta: "It hurts big time. We had a lot of hope in this competition. It was a great way for us to be able to go to Europe and as well, it's a very beautiful competition to try to win. I think we did a lot of positive things in the game, I think we created a lot of positive chances to win the game but if you concede two set pieces in a tie like this you put yourself in big trouble.
"I just want to concentrate now on lifting those players and getting back the belief, and convince them that there is still a lot to play for, and move on. It's part of this sport that a big disappointment can happen and it happened tonight. We have to learn and react as a team and as a club.
"I'm the first one, I have to lift them, it's my job. That's the first thing I have to do. First of all we have to digest it because it's very, very painful tonight."
Sky Sports' Oliver Yew...
"It hurts big time," Mikel Arteta said in his post-match press conference. "We had a lot of hope in this competition. It was a great way for us to be able to go to Europe and as well, it's a very beautiful competition to try to win."
The pain of this Europa League exit will take a lot of getting over for Arsenal and Arteta. This competition was a big chance of silverware and a route into the Champions League, but that all disappeared in dramatic circumstances as Olympiakos snatched a place in the last 16 at the expense of the Gunners.
There was a positive atmosphere starting to build around the Emirates Stadium as Arteta led his side to unbeaten start to 2020. They had just had three wins in a week and everything was starting to look better, but now, the Spaniard faces the biggest challenge of his short managerial career as he attempts to lift his players after that heart-breaking exit.
There is still the FA Cup to play for and although it's an outside chance, they can still finish in the top four of the Premier League to qualify for the Champions League. Arteta must now find a way to brighten the mood in the Arsenal camp, and quickly, because if he does not, all his good early work at the Emirates Stadium will be undone.
It's a big test for Arteta and his coaching staff, and he knows it. "I'm the first one, I have to lift them, it's my job," he said. "That's the first thing I have to do. First of all we have to digest it because it's very, very painful tonight."
It's a challenge they must overcome though, starting against Portsmouth in the FA Cup on Monday, otherwise their season will be over very quickly.
Olympiakos have won each of their last two away games against Arsenal, having lost their first three against the Gunners on the road.
Olympiakos' attentions now turn to the draw for the last 16 of the Europa League, which takes place on Friday in Nyon, with proceedings set to start at 12pm, UK time. You can follow it on Sky Sports News and with our live blog on the Sky Sports website and app.
The first legs for the round of 16 are scheduled for Thursday, March 12, with the second legs to be held a week later on March 19.
Up next for Arsenal is a trip to Portsmouth in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday, March 2; kick-off 7.45pm. The Gunners are back in Premier League action on Saturday, March 7 against West Ham at the Emirates Stadium; kick-off 3pm.