MADRID: Villarreal manager Unai Emery won 2-1 over old side Arsenal, who had to play 10 men after Dani Ceballos was sent off in the first semi-final of the Europa League.
Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol put Villarreal ahead at La Ceramica and Arsenal were even more unfortunate when Ceballos were shown a second yellow card after the break.
But Arsenal bounced back with a goal away when Nicolas Pepe converted a 73rd-minute penalty, before Villarreal’s Etienne Capou was sent off with 10 minutes left.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang almost scored the equalizer for the visitors but the result was enough to relieve Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta ahead of next week’s rematch in London.
“It completely changed this encounter. It made a big difference. We realized our position, we needed to be better and if we could do that we would have a chance to reach the final,” Arteta said.
For Villarreal, the opportunity to pick up a comfortable supply was wasted but the one-goal advantage still put Emery’s men in a better position.
“The situation is on our side and against us, but we have to continue to believe.
“The challenge was pretty tough before the game and it’s still tough. But now we’ve won and have the advantage,” Emery said.