Rennes 3-1 Arsenal: Ten-man Gunners punished in Europa League
Last Updated: 08/03/19 6:48am
Rennes capitalised on Sokratis Papastathopoulos' first-half dismissal to take control of their Europa League last-16 tie with a 3-1 first-leg victory over Arsenal at Roazhon Park.
Alex Iwobi's third-minute strike laid the foundations for a positive start from the Gunners, but that was undone on 41 minutes when Sokratis was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Rennes took full advantage instantly as Benjamin Bourigeaud's thunderous volley from the resulting free-kick hauled the Ligue 1 side level before half-time.
A Nacho Monreal own goal on 64 minutes was compounded two minutes from time when Ismaila Sarr powered home a header to leave Unai Emery's side with a mountain to climb in next week's return leg at the Emirates.
Home Team: Koubek (7), Zefane (7), Da Silva (6), Mexer (6), Bensebaini (6), Grenier (7), Andre (6), Hunou (6), Bourigeaud (8), Sarr (7), Ben Arfa (7).
Subs: Lea Siliki (6), Gelin (n/a).
Away Team: Cech (5), Mustafi (5), Koscielny (5), Sokratis (4), Monreal (5), Xhaka (5), Torreira (5), Mkhitaryan (5), Ozil (5), Iwobi (6), Aubameyang (5).
Subs: Guendouzi (6), Ramsey (5), Kolasinac (n/a).
Man of the Match: Benjamin Bourigeaud.
Applications for tickets could have sold out Roazhon Park three times over and the home support made a cauldron of noise which only intensified as the game got underway.
But Arsenal silenced to crowd with an away goal inside three minutes as Iwobi's low cross from the left caught goalkeeper Tomas Koubek out and nestled in the far corner.
Iwobi then almost turned provider, again breaking down the left before squaring across the box for Lucas Torreira to sting the palms of Koubek with a driven effort.
Sokratis was booked for bringing down Ben Arfa as he looked to break on the Arsenal goal, the winger's resulting free-kick saved low to his right by Petr Cech.
It was not too long before the Greece international was given his marching orders, shown a second yellow card in a matter of seven minutes for hauling back Sarr as he raced through on goal.
And Arsenal were made to pay immediately, Ben Arfa's free-kick hitting the wall only for Bourigeaud to thrash home the rebound from 20 yards and draw the hosts level.
Rennes, spearheaded in attack by Bourigeaud, shifted the ball around well to create space against Arsenal's 10 men, and a number of defensive errors culminated in Monreal miscuing a clearance and turning Zeffane's cross past Cech for an own goal.
Analysis: Emery facing uphill battle
The manner of the defeat and the congested fixture list only highlights the problems that Unai Emery is having to deal with this season, writes Adam Bate.
Emery appeared to accept a narrow loss rather than risk further damage by chasing an equaliser, replacing lone forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the closing stages.
But his side will have to reach the quarter-finals the hard way after Sarr's diving header after 88 minutes compounded a poor night for the visitors.
- Rennes are unbeaten in five games in Europe (W4 D1), their longest-ever run without defeat in European competition.
- Arsenal have lost away to a French side for the first time ever in European competition (W8 D5 L1).
- Arsenal have lost consecutive away games in Europe for the first time since September/November 2015, when they lost to Dinamo Zagreb and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
- The Gunners have conceded 3+ goals for the first time in their last 23 European games, since losing 5-1 to Bayern Munich in March 2017 in the Champions League.
- Arsenal have picked up red cards in consecutive games (v Rennes and Tottenham) for the first time since September 2015 (v Chelsea and Dinamo Zagreb).
- Arsenal have had a player sent off and scored an own-goal in a game for the first time since September 2015 (v Chelsea in the Premier League).
- Petr Cech returned to Roazhon Park with Arsenal, 14 years & 288 days after making his last club appearance there as a Rennes player in May 2004.
- Alex Iwobi's opener on 3 minutes 0 seconds was Arsenal's fastest goal in European football since Lukas Podolski scored in the Champions League (2 mins 1 sec) against Galatasaray in December 2014.
- Rennes striker Ismalia Sarr has been directly involved in six goals in the Europa League this season (four goals, two assists); more than any other player for the French side.
Rennes entertain Caen in Ligue 1 on Sunday (4pm GMT) while Arsenal host Manchester United on Renault Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League (4.15pm GMT)