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Saka Rues Arsenal’s Poor Start Against Villarreal

Saka Rues Arsenal’s  Poor Start Against  Villarreal

Bukayo Saka praised Arsenal for recovering from a “horrible” start to their Europa League semi-final against Villarreal as Nicolas Pepe’s penalty kept them in the tie heading into next week’s second leg.

The Gunners found themselves two goals behind and down to 10 men as a tactical tweak from manager Mikel Arteta to play without a recognised striker failed to pay off.

First-half goals from Manuel Trigueros and Raul Albiol preceded a Dani Ceballos red card just before the hour.

But Pepe converted from the spot to send Arsenal home with a 2-1 deficit, Villarreal having also been reduced to 10 men late on following the dismissal of former Tottenham man Etienne Capoue.

Saka, who was one of the better performers on an average night for the visitors and won the penalty from which Pepe scored, admitted the start of the game was far from good enough.

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“These big semi-finals, I can’t win the game by myself, nobody can win a game by themselves,” he said.

“I think the team, the way we started was horrible. You can’t start a game like this and it’s no surprise we went 2-0 down.

“There are a lot of positives, which all came in the second half. But, like I said, it’s a semi-final, Europa League, and to start the game like this it’s impossible to have a chance of scoring.

“We didn’t create anything, we lost every duel, we were passive and it’s really frustrating to look back on it.

“But I am just happy that in the second half, we picked ourselves up and we got a good chance and we managed to score.”

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