SAN FRANCISCO, March 08, (THEWILL) – Arsenal face a major battle if they are to reach the Europa League quarter-finals after a 3-1 defeat away to Rennes in France on Thursday, despite Alex Iwobi putting the Gunners ahead early on.
Iwobi’s goal gave the Premier League side the perfect start in this last 16, first leg at a raucous Roazhon Park, but the match hinged on the sending-off of Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos four minutes before half-time.
Benjamin Bourigeaud equalised for the French club moments later, and their second-half pressure paid off as a Nacho Monreal own goal put Rennes ahead before Ismaila Sarr’s late header gave them a two-goal cushion in the tie.
Unai Emery’s side must now turn the tie around in the second leg at the Emirates Stadium next Thursday if they are to progress any further in a competition which represents their only hope of silverware this season as well as offering a potential route into next season’s Champions League.
Rennes had eliminated Real Betis in the last round and there was a superb atmosphere in a stadium packed to its capacity of almost 30,000.