Prior to Arsenal’s tie against Villarreal on Thursday, former Gunners star Lauren suggested the Spanish club would be in for a tough night against the north London club in the semi-final of the Europa League.
The Yellow Submarine, however, came out on top after the first leg, registering a 2-1 win over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Manu Trigueros put the La Liga side in front, and then Raúl Albiol doubled the lead before half hour mark. Arsenal pulled one back after Nicolas Pépé scored from a spot-kick in the second half.
Both teams finished the tie with 10-men after Dani Ceballos and Étienne Capoue were shown red cards. Unai Emery will have been happy to see his men dominate the game against his former club as Villarreal created more chances than their opponents.
Arsenal were given a lifeline when Bukayo Saka went down inside the box after coming into contact with Trigueros. The midfielder has now given his take on the incident.
“My feeling is that he hits me with his foot. I have to see it again, but…” AS quoted Trigueros as saying.
The Villarreal player also expressed his disappointment for not punishing Arsenal in the first leg at home.
“They have escaped us alive. It’s clear that we have won and it is a good result, but seeing how the game went, we should have killed them,” he added.
“I wouldn’t know how to describe what happened; we’ve had clear chances but they’ve come across a penalty that… I haven’t seen it but my feet were still. They have had a lot of awards for what they have done.
“The manager’s approach has been very good, we have left them very few options in our goal, they get too big a prize because it is a short result for us. This is a semi-final of Europe.”
The return leg will be played at the Emirates next Thursday and avoiding a defeat would be sufficient for Villarreal to seal a berth in the final.