Diego Costa ended Arsene Wenger’s hopes of bowing out with silverware as Arsenal suffered an agonising 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final to lose 2-1 on aggregate.
With the tie level after the first leg, former Chelsea striker Costa struck in first-half injury-time to secure victory at the Wanda Metropolitano for Atletico, who will face Marseille in the final.
Arsenal fashioned a number of openings but the final pass was too often lacking as they were unable to breach Atletico’s defence.
The closest the visitors came to scoring was when Jan Oblak saved well from Granit Xhaka and substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan fired narrowly over the bar.
But Arsenal ultimately paid the price for two significant defensive lapses over the course of the tie, the first resulting in Antoine Griezmann’s late goal at the Emirates and the second giving Costa the chance to score at the end of a tight first half.
Having named the same team that started in the first leg, Arsenal showed some encouraging signs in the early stages in Madrid, despite a serious-looking injury to Laurent Koscielny that saw him stretchered off after just 10 minutes.
However, the Gunners failed to make the most of some promising opportunities, with Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil both unable to find team-mates with cut-backs into the box.
Costa and Griezmann spurned chances for Atletico when they missed the target from close range.
But just as the game appeared to be drifting towards half-time, the hosts struck as Arsenal switched off defensively. Jan Oblak’s clearance was played forward to Griezmann and he slid in Costa, who finished over David Ospina after getting goal-side of Hector Bellerin.
Arsenal threatened a response early in the second half and saw Aaron Ramsey go close when he shot wide under pressure from in front of goal.
Oblak saved well from Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi headed over as the Gunners continued to create chances.
At the other end, Griezmann was denied by a brilliant block from Calum Chambers as he looked poised to finish from six yards out.
Arsenal continued to push and probe in a tense finish, but the equaliser evaded them as Mkhitaryan fizzed a shot just over the bar in the 72nd minute and Atletico held firm to book their place in the final on Wednesday, May 16 in Istanbul.