Almost the perfect performance for the hosts, as Arsenal were nine minutes away from a well deserved first leg advantage, and the perfect Emirates Stadium farewell for Arsene Wenger in European competiton.
Unfortunatley for those in red, Antoine Griezmann, who had been invisible for 81 minutes, pounced on the Gunners' only defensive error of the night to insure Atletico Madrid took an away goal away from North London.
In the end, Arsenal were punished for missing first half chances. After Sime Vrsaljko was sent off after just nine minutes for the Spanish side, the home team dominated possession and created some excellent chances.
First, Alexandre Lacazette hit the post with a difficult volley, and he was denied again shortly after but this time by visting keeper Jan Oblak. Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere also missed two excellent chances deep inside the penalty area as Madrid began to settle into the match. Griezmann missed his first two chances, however they turned out to be just the warm up.
Arsenal got the goal they desevered just after the hour mark when Wilshere's lofted cross was clincally headed home by Lacazette, however no second goal was to follow. Griezmann's goal at the second attempt after Laurent Koscielny's poor defending deflated the stadium and gave the Gunners an incredibly difficult task to complete next week in Spain.
Here are the player ratings after this good performance but disappointing result for Wenger's men.
Gunners punished for defensively slip
David Ospina: 7 – Rarely tested throughout the match, his two saves from Antonnie Grizemann were straightforward but calmly done. Also showed quality with his footwork and distribution in the first half.
Hector Bellerin: 7 – Always an option ontop of the touchline, Bellerin was involved constantly throughout the match. His crossing was also of a high quality, something Arsenal fans would like to see on a more consistent basis next season. Defensively also solid.
Shkodran Mustafi: 6 – With no striker to defend for the majority of the match, the German was barely tested all game. Vital slip which allowed Griezmann an easy finish.
Laurent Koscielny: 6 – Performed well for so long, but against one of the best striker’s in European football, you must be switched on for 90 minutes, and Koscielny’s weak defending gifted Griezmann and Atletico a precious away goal.
Nacho Monreal: 7 – Like Bellerin, Monreal was a constant threat going forward, and he linked up well with Welbeck and Ozil throughout.
Front six dominate but fail to finish off tie
Granit Xhaka: 8 – Clearly playing with confidence, the Swiss international helped Arsenal dominate the midfield for large periods of the match. While his positioning defensively meant they were never caught short, even when he gave up possession, he was never rash when trying to win it back again, showing a level of maturity Arsenal fans never saw last season.
Aaron Ramsey: 8 – Always a threat with his late runs into the box, Ramsey was unlucky not to score on a number of ocassions, denied by two excellent Jan Oblak saves. His dyanmic performance showed why he is such a key man in this Arsenal side.
Jack Wilshere: 7 – Excellent cross from Lacazette’s goal, and worked tireless all game. Stil not at his creative best, but showed another valuable side to his game.
Mesut Ozil: 8 – Missing from the last four matches, the Gunners missed the German’s ability to find and make space all over the pitch. His workrate was excellent too, a quality under-rated by many who don’t watch him regulaly. The bravest man on the pitch, he always wanted to dictate attacks.
Alexandre Lacazette: 8 – Stopped early on by the post first and then Oblak, Lacazette pre-knee surgery may have given up. But when Jack Wilshere lifted the ball up in the box on the hour mark, the Frenchman rose fantasically before clincially guiding a header home. An all-round excellent performance, Lacazette looks determind to walk out in the final at his old home ground, the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
Danny Welbeck: 7 – From the start, the Englishman’s pressing caused Atletico problems. Always an option before Vrsaljko’s sending off, his movement and quality of touch helped Arsenal create numerous chances in the opening 20 minutes. An good outlet in the second half as well, Welbeck continued his run of good form.