A late goal from Antoine Griezmann allowed 10-man Atletico Madrid to overcome a 10th minute Sime Vrsalkjo red-card and earn a 1-1 draw versus Arsenal in their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday night at the Emirates Stadium in London.
The Croatia international was sent off with two yellow cards inside the first 10 minutes, but a game Atletico defence led by centre-back Diego Godin and goalkeeper Jan Oblak kept things scoreless until Alexandre Lacazette's header in the 61st minute.
The visitors looked destined to go home with a narrow loss, but a defensive error from Laurent Koscielny paved the way for Griezmann's 81st minute score, giving Atletico the advantage in the tie.
Arsenal started the brighter of the two, and Lacazette should have done better after a superb ball in from Danny Welbeck, but it was shanked wide. The Frenchman got another chance moments later and this time was on target with a header, but Obak made the diving save.
Things then took a drastic change even before 10 minutes had ticked off the clock, as referee Clement Turpin brandished a second yellow card to Vrsaljko for a foul on Lacazette, reducing the Colchoneros to 10 men with a full 80 minutes still to go.
Simeone was enraged, and it only took a few minutes for the Argentine exhaust Turpin's patience and get sent off himself.
From there it was one-way traffic for much of the half. With the man advantage Arsenal were bombarding Oblak, but most of the attack was coming via crosses, and Atletico's vaunted Uruguayan centre-back pairing of Jose Maria Gimenez and Godin snuffed out any and all chances.
Atletico were able to absorb the punches and toward the end of the half they started countering with some pressure of their own. Thomas created the best Atletico chance when he swooped onto a ball, slalomed past a couple Arsenal defenders before a deflection fell to the feet of Griezmann, who sent a bullet right into the hands of Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina.
The Gunners regained control in the second-half, and their unyielding pressure finally broke the Atletico dam. Jack Wilshere received a ball on the left flank and served up a cross that Lacazette re-directed in past Oblak for a 1-0 Arsenal lead.
The goal energised both the Arsenal players and supporters, and Lacazette fed off it. The French striker almost had his second with a header off a corner kick, but the ball spun wide.
Atletico opted not to tempt fate and instead of taking an aggressive tack, they went defensive, replacing Gameiro with Gabi and Angel Correa with Stefan Savic. Those two brought some badly needed fresh legs to the Atletico defence and set the stage for a late Atletico surge.
And from almost out of nothing, the visitors from the Spanish capital found the equaliser. Koscielny dealt poorly with a long ball from Gimenez intended for Griezmann, and the former Real Sociedad man pounced. Griezmann's first effort was blocked by Ospina, but he recovered in enough time to stick the ball into the roof of the net to incredibly draw Atletico level 1-1.
Oblak was called into action one final time, this time soaring to his right and using his fingertips to deny Wilshere header, thus sealing a most improbable draw for the Colchoneros.
1.- Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere; Welbeck; Ozil; Lacazette.
1.- Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas; Correa (Savic, min. 75), Thomas, Saul, Koke; Griezmann (Torres, min. 85), Gameiro (Gabi, min. 65).
Goals: 1-0, min. 61: Lacazette; 1-1, min. 81: Griezmann
Referee: Clement Turpin (France). Yellow Cards: Vrsaljko (Min. 2) for Atletico Madrid, Vrsaljko (Min. 10) for Atletico Madrid
Red cards: Vrasaljko (Min. 9) for Atletico Madrid
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