In Depth

Arsenal and Aubameyang suffer a Greek tragedy in Europa League - reactions and highlights

Striker scored superb overhead kick then missed a sitter as the Gunners crashed out against Olympiacos

Europa League round of 32 second leg Arsenal 1 Olympiacos 2 (2-2 on agg; Olympiacos win on away goals)

Arsenal are out of the Uefa Europa League after losing 2-1 last night against Olympiacos at the Emirates Stadium.

It was the Gunners’s first defeat of 2020, but a costly one that reduces their chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. 

Now, their only hope of reaching Europe’s showpiece competition is finishing in the top four of the Premier League, but on the evidence of last night's defeat that is a distant prospect.

Gutsy Greeks

The headlines this morning are about the last-minute miss of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but to single out the Arsenal captain is grossly unfair. 

He had levelled for his side in extra-time with a stunning overhead kick after Pape Abou Cisse’s second-half goal had brought the tie level on aggregate. 

Arsenal were on course for the last 16 but then familiar defensive failings allowed Youssef El Arabi to stab the ball home to send the raucous travelling fans wild. 

This dramatic game had one twist in the last seconds of extra time when the ball fell to Aubameyang at point-blank range but this time he scuffed his shot wide before slumping to his knees in disbelief.

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Ozil: the invisible man

But don’t blame Aubameyang. Blame a defence that is institutionally incompetent, and blame Mesut Ozil who once again, when it mattered, went missing. 

As the Daily Mirror said: “His nickname should be Simon Templar. At times it’s as if he is The Invisible Man.”

For Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta it was a painful reminder of the work that needs to be done - his squad is mediocre technically and weak temperamentally. 

“It hurts big time,” he admitted. “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.”

When the going gets tough

Arteta must now lift his players before the Premier League campaign resumes. The Gunners are ninth, seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, and they still have an outside chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. But only if they toughen up. 

“It’s part of this sport that a big disappointment can happen,” reflected the Spaniard. “We have to learn and react as a team and as a club. 

“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.”

But some remain sceptical that this squad has the heart to rise to the challenge. 

“The commitment wasn't there from the off,” said former Gunner turned TV pundit Martin Keown. “It was there for the taking, they were complacent. It was so disappointing. 

“It was the first time tonight that I felt the players weren’t responding to the manager and the manager didn’t have an answer.”

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang reacts after his late miss against Olympiacos

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Reactions to Aubameyang’s miss 

  • The Sun: “Hero to Tear-O”
  • Gary Lineker: “Blimey. Absolute shocker.”
  • Daily Mirror: “Plum centre, a kind ricochet, and the goal gaping, he can have no excuses for missing.”
  • Henry Winter, The Times: “Aubameyang could have rescued his side, but was narrowly off target. Arsenal’s Greek tragedy was complete.”

Today’s newspaper back pages

Bruno Fernandes stars as Man Utd enjoy Bruges cruise

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