Lacazette sent off in Arsenal loss; Chelsea, Napoli win
London: Arsenal suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at BATE Borisov on a night forward Alexandre Lacazette will want to forget after being sent off late on, while Chelsea, Inter Milan and Napoli all won away in Europa League last 32 first-leg ties.
Spanish sides Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal also tasted victory on the road, while Benfica, Club Brugge and Plzen have the upper hand heading into next week’s second legs.
Arsenal had scored 10 goals in two matches against BATE Borisov in the same competition in 2017 but never looked like being as prolific in the freezing temperatures of Belarus.
BATE took the lead when Stanislav Dragun nodded a free kick past Arsenal goalkeeper Peter Cech seconds before halftime after Lacazette put a header wide midway through the first half.
To compound his misery Lacazette was shown a red card five minutes from time for felling Aleksandar Filipovic with an elbow after the defender held him back and was also booked.
Arsenal’s London neighbours Chelsea did much better in similar temperatures, overcoming Malmo 2-1 in Sweden.
Ross Barkley gave the 2013 winners the lead when he stabbed home from close range on the half-hour and Oliver Giroud got his fifth goal in four Europa League matches with a slick back heel from a Willian cross 14 minutes into the second half.
Malmo’s Anders Christiansen scored a lovely goal on the break to make it 2-1 but the Swedes could not level the tie.
Italian clubs also enjoyed success with Napoli beating Zurich 3-1 in Switzerland, while Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez netted a 39th minute penalty for a 1-0 win at Rapid Vienna.
Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne put the visitors ahead after 12 minutes as he capitalised on a dreadful mistake by keeper Yanick Brecher and Jose Callejon doubled their lead in the 21st when he slotted home from Kevin Malcuit’s low cross.
Piotr Zielinski got the third 13 minutes from time before Benjamin Kololli grabbed a consolation from the penalty spot.
In the only tie featuring two teams who dropped down from the Champions League, visitors Benfica beat Galatasaray 2-1 after taking the lead in the 27th minute when Salvio converted a penalty given for handball.