Rennes (France): Chelsea and Napoli closed in on the Europa League quarterfinals, but Arsenal face a major battle to reach the last eight after a 1-3 defeat away to Rennes on Thursday.
Alex Iwobi gave the Gunners a perfect start in north-western France 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 moments later, and the hosts’ 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 in London next Thursday if they are to progress any further in a competition which represents their only hope of silverware this season, and offers a potential route into next season’s Champions League with Arsenal sitting outside the top four in the Premier League. The Gunners recovered from a first-leg deficit to beat BATE Borisov in the last round, but Rennes are a step up in quality and are revelling in what is already their best ever European run.
Chelsea may also need this competition to get back in the Champions League next season and the Blues eased past Dynamo Kiev 3-0 at Stamford Bridge courtesy of goals from Pedro Rodriguez, Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Pedro could have had at least a hat-trick as Denys Boyko denied him four times after the Spaniard had turned home Olivier Giroud’s flick to give Chelsea an early lead....