Arsenal manager Unai Emery says he has “confidence” his side can overturn Rennes’ 3-1 lead at Emirates Stadium in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie. Alex Iwobi’s early cross-shot had put Arsenal in front but they lost control of the game after Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ dismissal for a second booking. Benjamin Bourigeaud immediately drew the hosts level with a stunning strike into the top right corner, with Nacho Monreal’s own goal and Ismaila Sarr’s late header compounding a miserable evening for Arsenal. Arsenal go into the second leg having overturned a 1-0 deficit in the last-32 stage. On that occasion, they progressed with a 3-0 home victory over Belarus side Bate Borisov.
Arsenal arrived at Roazhon Park having never lost an away game against French opposition. For large parts of the first half, that record looked like remaining intact as they gathered an early lead courtesy of Iwobi and controlled possession. But while Lucas Torreira’s effort was superbly saved by Rennes goalkeeper Tomas Koubek and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also tested the Czech keeper they proved architects of their own downfall in an 86-second spell. Having already been booked for a foul on Hatem Ben Arfa, Greece defender Papastathopoulos pulled Sarr’s shirt to earn his second yellow card, shifting the momentum of the game in the hosts’ favour.
With attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan operating as a makeshift right-back, Arsenal faced one-way traffic in the second period. Petr Cech, who replaced Bernd Leno in goal, produced a string of superb saves, denying Adrien Hunou, Sarr and Ben Arfa with the score at 1-1. But he was helpless to prevent Rennes’ second of the night as the Arsenal defence clocked off and Mehdi Zeffane’s cross flicked off Monreal into the top corner. And after carelessly losing possession late on, James Lea Siliki escaped to deliver the perfect ball for an unmarked Sarr to head past Cech at the far post.