Bullish Bukayo Saka believes Arsenal showed they are ‘better’ than Villarreal despite Europa League semi-final first leg defeat… but admits ‘passive’ start made it ‘impossible’ for them to score in opening 45 minutes
- Arsenal endured a nightmare start as Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol scored
- The Gunners then had midfielder Dani Ceballos sent off against Villarreal
- Bukayo Saka then won a dubious penalty, which Nicolas Pepe tucked away
- And the 19-year-old believes their second half display showed their superiority
Bukayo Saka claims Arsenal showed they are a ‘better’ team that Villarreal despite losing a thrilling Europa League semi-final first leg to the Spanish outfit.
The Gunners’ endured a nightmare opening half an hour at the Estadio de la Ceramica as Manu Trigueros and Raul Albiol put former Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s side into a 2-0 goal lead.
Things went from bad to worse in the second half for Mikel Arteta’s men when Spain midfielder Dani Ceballos was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Bukayo Saka claims Arsenal showed they are a ‘better’ team that Villarreal despite losing
The Gunners went two goals down in their Europa League semi-final first leg after Manu Trigueros (above) and Raul Albiol scored
England international Saka then won a dubious penalty after feeling contact from Trigueros, but Nicolas Pepe nevertheless converted to halve the deficit.
The Gunners will have to nevertheless overturn a 2-1 deficit at the Emirates Stadium if they want to reach a second Europa League final in three years, but Saka believes their second-half display showed they are better than their LaLiga counterparts.
Asked on BT Sport if he thought the dynamic of the tie had changed following the second half, Saka replied: ‘Yes 100 per cent. I think we definitely showed that we are better than them, even with 10 men we were dominating.
‘It is just up to us, it is always up to us. We have a team full of quality players and when we play properly we can beat anyone and we showed that today.’
Saka won a dubious penalty in the second half but Nicolas Pepe made no mistake from the spot
It is Emery’s Villarreal – who were also reduced to 10 men when Etienne Capoue was dismissed – however who lead the tie thanks to a brilliant first-half display.
But Saka, 19, slammed his side’s ‘passive’ performance in the opening 45 minutes, and admitted they were never going to score as long as that lethargy continued.
‘There are a lot of positives which all came in the second half. But it is the semi-final of the Europa League and to start the game like that makes it impossible to have a chance of scoring,’ he added.
‘We didn’t create anything, we lost every duel, we were passive. It’s really frustrating to look back on, but I’m happy we picked ourselves up in the second half and managed to score. We have given ourselves a chance at the Emirates.’
Dani Ceballos and Etienne Capoue saw red in a thrilling clash at the Estadio de la Ceramica
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