MX23RW : Tuesday, March 19 19:52:01
Mar 7, 2019 at 5.55pm UK at ​Route de Lorient
Attendance: 29,771
Rennes
3-1
Arsenal
Bourigeaud (42'), Monreal (65' og.), Sarr (88')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Iwobi (4')
Sokratis (41')

Result: Rennes build first-leg lead over Arsenal in Europa League

Rennes come from behind to register a 3-1 victory over 10-man Arsenal in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday night.

Arsenal have been left facing an uphill task to remain in the Europa League courtesy of a 3-1 defeat to Rennes in Thursday's first leg in France.

Alex Iwobi put Arsenal into a third-minute lead, but a long-range strike from Benjamin Bourigeaud, an own goal from Nacho Monreal and a late header from Ismaila Sarr have given Rennes a commanding advantage.

The pendulum of the opening game of the last-16 tie swung in Rennes' favour just before half time when Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off for two bookable offences, and the Gunners will now have to come from behind in next week's return fixture at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal celebrate Alex Iwobi's goal against Rennes in the Europa League on March 7, 2019.© Reuters

Arsenal enjoyed the perfect start but their early goal came in fortuitous circumstances, with Iwobi's inswinging cross from the left evading everyone and going into the net via the back post.

Rennes responded positively after going behind as they began to up the tempo on the ball but Arsenal should have doubled their advantage before the quarter-hour mark, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang seeing a first-time effort from 12 yards punched away by Tomas Koubek.

Clement Grenier sent a 35-yard free kick for the home side whistling over Petr Cech's crossbar, and Arsenal responded by going down the other end with Aubameyang having a low attempt comfortably dealt with by Koubek at his near post.

Unai Emery watches his Arsenal side take on Rennes in the Europa League on March 7, 2019© Reuters

Arsenal went close again after 28 minutes as Shkodran Mustafi fired agonisingly wide of the far post after a well-worked free kick, but Rennes had the better of the closing stages of the first half.

Hatem Ben Arfa saw a set piece punched away by Cech after Sokratis had picked up the first of his two yellow cards, and his second caution came soon afterwards when the centre-back was adjudged to have clipped Sarr on the edge of the box.

Bourigeaud took full advantage from the resulting free kick, with the midfielder sending his first effort into the wall before finding the far top corner of Cech's net from 25 yards out on the rebound.

Benjamin Bourigeaud celebrates Rennes going ahead against Arsenal on March 7, 2019© Reuters

Rennes wasted no time in going on the attack after the restart, and Bourigeaud should have put the hosts in front instead of only picking out Cech with a first-time effort from 12 yards.

Unai Emery acted by introducing Matteo Guendouzi for Iwobi but the substitution did nothing to stem the tide, and Cech had to make another save down to his left to keep out Sarr's strike from just inside the box.

Ben Arfa then had a free kick tipped over the crossbar by the Czech goalkeeper, but there was little that the veteran could do to prevent Monreal from putting through his own net.

Nacho Monreal scores past Petr Cech during the Europa League game between Rennes and Arsenal on March 7, 2019© Reuters

A ball was delivered into the area from the byline, and all Monreal could do was divert the cross into the far corner of the net.

Arsenal should have equalised soon afterwards only for Mesut Ozil to fire straight at Koubek after creating an opportunity for himself inside the area, but Rennes remained on the attack during the closing quarter.

Emery introduced Sead Kolasniac for Aubameyang in order to try to stay within a one-goal deficit ahead of the game in North London, but Rennes netted a potentially tie-changing third just before full time.

A cross from the left was perfect for Sarr who was waiting at the back post, and Rennes' star performer on the night powered a header past Cech to seal one of the biggest results in the history of his club.

RENNES (4-4-1-1): Koubek; Zeffane, Da Silva, Mexer, Bensebiani; Sarr, Andre, Grenier (Gelin 90+1'), Bourigeaud (Lea Siliki 73'); Ben Arfa; Hunou

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Cech; Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Koscielny, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ozil (Ramsey 70'), Iwobi (Guendouzi 53'), Aubameyang (Kolasinac 79')

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Mesut Ozil in action for Arsenal on November 3, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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