Arsenal stepped back from the edge and towards the semi-final. Just when their European journey appeared virtually over, down to 10 men and trailing 2-0 to goals from Manu Trigueros and Raúl Albiol, unable to muster a shot on target, and on the verge of elimination at the hands of the manager they had sacked, Bukayo Saka won a penalty that gives them hope. Mikel Arteta’s side went down in Spain, but they didn’t go out, Nicolas Pépé scoring the away goal that provides something for them to build on in seven days’ time.

For much of the night it hadn’t seemed likely, and it may not seem like much, but it is something. More, in fact, than had appeared likely for much of the night. For Arteta’s side there would be relief, a sense of rebellion too. For Villarreal, there will be a sense of lost opportunity, just when history beckoned. There may be remorse too, questions to be asked about their approach, if conservatism had cost them.

Related: Villarreal 2-1 Arsenal: Europa League semi-final – as it happened

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