Disastrous night for 10-man Arsenal as Rennes take control
Europa League last 16 first leg, Roazhon Park – Stade Rennais 3 (Bourigeaud 42, Monreal 65 og, Sarr 88) Arsenal 1 (Iwobi 4)
Arsenal’s hopes of winning the Europa League were dealt a blow as Rennes secured a 3-1 win in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Alex Iwobi’s shot surprised Tomas Koubek after just four minutes to give Arsenal a potentially crucial away goal, but the mood of the game changed dramatically just before half time.
Hatem Ben Arfa’s through ball for Ismaila Sarr saw Sokratis Papastathopoulos receive a second yellow card for a trip just outside the box, with Benjamin Bourigeaud grabbing a superb volleyed equaliser after his initial free-kick had hit the wall.
In the second half, Arsenal fell behind through a Nacho Monreal own goal after failing to keep their shape.
A late third saw Sarr complete an incisive counter-attack to sign off an abject performance from the visitors. They have a chance with their away goal, but the same old Arsenal weaknesses have not been eliminated by Unai Emery.
Rennes celebrate victory against ArsenalGetty Images
Should Sokratis have been sent off? Both challenges were soft yellow cards, but they should have known the referee was card-happy and the defender simply gave him the opportunity to prove it. They could still go through but they have made themselves far from overwhelming favourites.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Hatem Ben Arfa (Rennes): After a disastrous end to his spell with Emery at PSG, he will be delighted to have exacted some revenge. He was at his relentless best, injecting danger across the attack and from set pieces, and when Arsenal were down to 10 men he exploited the space adroitly.
Hatem Ben Arfa (C) vies with Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos (R)Getty Images
Rennes: Koubek 6, Zeffane 6, Da Silva 6, Mexer 6, Bensebaini 6, Grenier 7, Andre 6, Hunou 7, Bourigeaud 7, Sarr 7, Ben Arfa 8. Subs: Siliki 7, Gelin 6.
4’ - GOAL! Rennes 0-1 Arsenal. Iwobi scores - Iwobi collects the ball on the left, he cuts into the box past his marker, and he tries to pick out Aubameyang with a cross into the six yard box, and instead he clips in a cross that curls into the net at the back post.
41’ - RED CARD! Sokratis is sent off! He can have no complaints as he brought down Sarr, chasing Ben Arfa's through ball into the box, and is given a second yellow.
42’ - GOAL! Rennes 1-1 Arsenal. Bourigeaud scores - He lines up a free kick 25 yards out, to the left of the D, and he sweeps a free kick into the wall, before meeting the rebound with a beautiful volley that whistles past Cech.
49’ - CECH SAVE - Bourigeaud attempts to curl a cross into the box for runners, but it doubles up as a shot and curls just wide of the far post.
65’ - GOAL! Rennes 2-1 Arsenal. Monreal scores an own goal - A cross from the right comes in as Arsenal dither, the defender sticks out a leg and deflects it beyond a wrong-footed Cech.
88’ - GOAL! Rennes 3-1 Arsenal. Sarr scores - A brilliant counter down the left wing for Rennes as Arsenal are opened up. Siliki has time and space on the left, whips it in for Sarr to pull off a bullet header.
- 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
- Arsenal have lost away to a French side for the first time ever in European competition (W8 D5 L1)
- 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)