Arsenal stunned by Olympiacos
(2-2 on aggregate, Olympiacos win on away goals)
Youssef El-Arabi’s 119th-minute strike for Olympiacos sent Arsenal tumbling out of the Europa League tonight after an abject Gunners performance at the Emirates.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s acrobatic overhead kick just three minutes earlier appeared to have earned a 1-1 draw for Arsenal, which would have sent them through after last week’s 1-0 win in Piraeus.
But El-Arabi, who met a right wing cross perfectly on the volley to plant his effort past Berndt Leno, was the hero for the Greeks.
After that there was still time for Aubameyang to inexplicably put a shot wide from six yards, but in truth it would have been more than the Gunners deserved.
Now the most Arsenal can hope for from this seasons is to mount a challenge for a return to Europe’s second competition next year – a task in itself which looks highly unlikely.
Chances were at a premium in the first half. Nicolas Pepe, who looked the brightest player on the pitch in the first period, saw a shot blocked after good link-up play between himself and Mesut Ozil.
Then Ousseyenou Ba brought down Pepe on the edge of the box when it appeared the Ivorian was clean through on goal. Replays showed that the ball may have just got away from him and the yellow card which resulted for Ba was probably right.
Pepe curled the resulting free-kick from a promising central area just 20 yards out over the bar.
Arsenal had the ball in the net just over five minutes before the break thanks to Alexandre Lacazette, but Granit Xhaka’s ball to Bukayo Saka who supplied the cross for Lacazette was rightly adjudged offside.
At the other end Mohamed Camara shot wide of Arsenal’s left-hand post when through in the box, while El Arabi fired over after being played in by Mathieu Valbuena.
Olympiacos took the lead seven minutes into the second half, Pape Abou Cisse left completely unmarked as he ran through the Arsenal defence to head home Valbuena’s corner.
Then minutes later Berndt Leno acrobatically saved a curling effort before Granit Xhaka pulled a shot wide of the right post at the other end.
Arsenal then dominated possession in the second half but the play was all in front of Olympiacos, the Greeks dealing easily with any threat from the Gunners as the home side could not find a way through.
With just over 10 minutes until the end of normal time Arsenal had their best chance of the half when a great ball from Xhaka found Pepe, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Jose Sa and, when Shkodran Mustafi’s header was nodded back, Lacazette failed to find the finishing touch.
At the other end Mustafi made a last-ditch intervention to prevent Olympiacos from making it 2-0 before tame efforts from Lacazette, substitute Lucas Toreira and David Luiz failed to find the net as extra-time loomed.
Then, despite a dire display, it appeared that Aubameyang’s 20th strike of the season would see the Gunners through.
A cross from Ozil from the right was met by substitute Gabriel Martineli, whose looping header fell perfectly for Aubameyang, who set himself for a perfect overhead volley.
Then El-Arabi had the final word, but Aubemeyang’s miss at the end had to be seen to be believed.