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Arsenal to face Atletico Madrid in Europa League semis

Arsene Wenger

Nyon, April 13: The Europa League semifinals will see the two favourites go head to head after Arsenal and Atletico Madrid were drawn together.

Arsenal have been in the competition from the outset, finishing top of Group H before progressing through the knockout phase, having little difficulty along the way.

The Gunners were made to sweat a little during their quarter-final clash with CSKA Moscow, but they ultimately came through as 6-3 aggregate victors.

Fedor Chalov and Kirill Nababkin struck in the opening 50 minutes to threaten a dramatic turnaround in the tie, but Welbeck and Ramsey scored in the final quarter of an hour to seal the win.

Atletico dropped down from the Champions League after finishing third in their group and have been considered among the favourites ever since.

Although they lost 0-1 to Sporting CP in Lisbon on Thursday, their 2-0 first-leg win was just enough to see them through.

Injuries to Lucas Hernandez and Diego Costa made life hard for Atletico. A 2-0 lead from the first leg in the Spanish capital a week ago put Diego Simeone's men in a strong position ahead of the return match at a wet Estadio Jose Alvalad.

But on a week that Barcelona and Real Madrid were on the end of staggering Champions League comebacks, Atletico - champions in 2010 and 2012 - failed to heed those twin warnings and were fortunate to progress with a 2-1 aggregate victory.

The Europa League first-leg semifinals will be played on April 26 and the return leg on May 3.

Costa doubtful

Meanwhile, Atletico forward Diego Costa risks missing their Europa semis against Arsenal after he was diagnosed with a hamstring injury.

Spain striker Costa was forced off early in the second half of Atletico's 0-1 loss at Sporting Lisbon which took them into the last four of the competition 2-1 on aggregate.

"Upon returning to Madrid the club's medical services did tests on our striker and their report indicates he suffered a hamstring strain in his left leg and his availability will be determined by how the injury develops," said a statement from the Liga side.

Costa was a frequent tormentor of Arsenal in his three seasons with Chelsea, scoring in two victories over Arsene Wenger's side in the Premier League, and also helped get Gabriel Paulista sent off in a 2-0 win.

Source: OPTA/Agencies

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    Story first published: Friday, April 13, 2018, 16:00 [IST]
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