Tomáš Holeš cancelled out Nicolas Pépé's opener as the Czech side earned a first-leg draw in north London.
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Tomáš Holeš earned what could prove a vital draw for Slavia Praha with a last-gasp leveller after Nicolas Pépé had given Arsenal the lead.
Match in brief
Arsenal were left to rue missed opportunities after Slavia Praha grabbed a late draw thanks to Holeš' added-time header.
The Gunners hit the woodwork twice, firstly via Willian's free-kick just after the break, and then when Alexandre Lacazette raced through the middle just after the hour mark.
Mikel Arteta's men looked to have secured victory with four minutes remaining when substitute Pépé delivered a neat finish after combining with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but it was Slavia who had the final word.
Samantha Miller, Arsenal reporter
Frustrating for Arsenal to concede the equaliser just after taking the lead, and Arsenal will need to take their chances in the second leg. On the plus side, Bukayo Saka is proving to be the hardest worker in the team.
Ondřej Zlámal, Slavia Praha reporter
This was not Slavia's best performance this season, but they never lost belief or heart and fought until the very end. Although the Czech champions rode their luck, they still managed to earn a promising result for the second leg.
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal manager: "The game was under control. We got the goal we wanted but we missed some big chances as well. We played two or three balls in certain areas that we shouldn't do, and we put ourselves on the back foot and conceded the corner. They put bodies in there and anything can happen. It changes the feeling after the game."
Tomáš Holeš, Slavia goalscorer: "It is superb to score a late equaliser against Arsenal, what else I can wish for? I will remember it until the end of my life. We got a superb result."
Jindřich Trpišovský, Slavia coach: "We have a very promising result for the second leg and we have a chance to finish the job at home. Arsenal will have to score a goal, and we will have to avoid conceding goals like tonight after our own set piece. Our defensive display will have to be free of any mistakes."
- Slavia have drawn their last two meetings with Arsenal since a 7-0 UEFA Champions League defeat in 2007.
- Pépé notched his fourth UEFA Europa League goal of the season, more than any other Gunners player.
- Arsenal have now gone 14 matches in all competitions without keeping a clean sheet.
- Slavia are the first team to face three British opponents (Leicester, Rangers and Arsenal) in the knockout rounds of UEFA club competition since AC Milan in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League (Celtic, Manchester United and Liverpool).
- Slavia are unbeaten in 30 home games, a run dating back to November 2019. They have won 23 of those matches, including ten of the last 12.
Arsenal: Leno; Cédric, Holding, Gabriel, Bellerín; Willian (Martinelli 73), Smith Rowe (Ceballos 88), Xhaka, Partey (Elneny 78), Saka (Pépé 78); Lacazette (Aubameyang 78)
Slavia: Kolář; Bah, Zima, Holeš, Bořil; Dorley (Lingr 70), Stanciu (Masopust 85), Hromada (Ševčík 46), Provod, Olayinka (Traoré 85); Sima (Kuchta 70)
Both teams are back in action on Sunday evening, when Arsenal are at bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United and Slavia host Sparta Praha in the derby. The second leg then takes place on Thursday, with Dinamo Zagreb or Villarreal awaiting the victors in the semi-finals.