It had to be suspenseful and with the help of the sticks, but Villarreal Unai Emery will play the final of the Europa League after hold out in London (0-0) the onslaught of the Arsenal and the two auctions to the posts of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The ‘Yellow Submarine’, after four attempts in the past to reach a European final, achieved the goal in an endurance exercise in London, making the 2-1 good in the first leg and where Arsenal attacked with pure heart and brushed the pass with a volley and a header from Aubameyang repelled by the posts.
The luck that the yellows lacked for that Riquelme penalty to enter in 2006, allied with them to prevent the Gabonese from burying the year of Emery’s.
Little did Arsenal learn from Villarreal’s outing in the first leg. This time Arteta held the door to zero, but it was not because the ‘Yellow Submarine’ did not try. Samuel Chukwueze was the one who tried the most, with a threaded shot that forced Leno to reach out with a changed hand.
Villarreal kept pace, but gradually stopped creating chances and the early injury of the Nigerian striker, who had to leave on a stretcher, took fuel away from them in attack.
Arsenal was winning in body, which began to lean into Rulli’s goal and brushed the goal in a well-executed volley by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but in which he ran into a post.
There were no occasions to light the wick and rest served as flame. It broke in two, as if it were an extension and as if the two teams needed the goal, when Villarreal was more classified as the minutes passed.
The need tightened for Arsenal, who made a arreón after leaving the changing rooms and he almost found the prize with a deflected shot by Pepé and with a failure by Rulli that left the ball dead in the area for Smith-Rowe. The young midfielder had no aim.
Just like Martin Odegaard did not have the day. He left in the 66th minute without having affected the game. The game turned into a hot potato in which both teams passed the dominance. He had against Villarreal to finish off, but Gerard Moreno was not fine. Holding topped off a set piece serve. He nodded off again, to Rulli’s right, infarcting the yellow follower.
And worse was when a Bellerín band career ended with Aubameyang finishing with his head and meeting again with the stick. His second stumble on wood. The ultimate.
Villarreal endured as best he could, with more nerves than anything else, knowing that his season was decided on the London lawn, while Arsenal looked into the abyss of a new year without Europe. And that darkness engulfed him. Villarreal’s defense resisted, which ended up exhausted on the field and achieved what all the yellow fans had hoped for since that first semi-final lost in 2004 against Valencia.
Villarreal will march to Gdansk for the first European title and there awaits another Englishman, Manchester United.
0 – Arsenal: Log; Bellerín (Nketiah, m.91), Holding, Marí, Tierney (Willian, m.80); Odegaard (Martinelli, m.66), Smith-Rowe, Thomas; Saka, Pepé and Aubameyang (Lacazette, m.79).
0 – Villarreal: Rulli; Pedraza (Moreno, m.91), Torres, Albiol, Gaspar; Trigueros, Coquelin, Parejo; Chukwueze (Pino, m.29 (Gómez, m.91)), Alcácer (Bacca, m.72) and Moreno.
Referee: Slavko Vincic (SVK) admonished Nketiah (m.92) by the locals and Pino (m.86) by the visitors.
Incidents: Second leg of the Europa League semifinals played at the Emirates Stadium (London) behind closed doors.