Dani Ceballos endured a night to forget as Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Villarreal in their Europa League semi-final first-leg on Thursday.
The midfielder, on loan from La Liga giants Real Madrid, was back on home soil as he partnered Thomas Partey in the Gunners’ engine room at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
He was partially to blame for Villarreal’s opening goal scored by Manu Trigueros inside the opening five minutes as he allowed Juan Foyth too much space to move into and didn’t do enough to stop Samuel Chukwueze’s ball into the box.
Then two minutes before half-time, Ceballos was left walking the disciplinary tight-rope for fouling Foyth as the Tottenham loanee looked to break into the box.
And with the Gunners 2-0 down, needing to score the next goal to get back in the tie, they could ill-afford to go down to 10-men.
Except they did.
10 minutes into the second half, Ceballos was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence for standing on the boot of Daniel Parejo.
As revealed by Mikel Arteta after the game, this decision forced him to alter his tactics after revealing the plan was to replace the midfielder with Gabriel Martinelli – a move that would have resulted in a change of shape for the Gunners.
“We talked at half time that we have to be careful,” said Arteta after the game. “I was going to take him [Ceballos] off and by the time Gabi [Martinelli] was ready to come on, that action happened and he was out.”
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But whilst Arteta was left to rue Ceballos’ red card, the Villarreal USA Twitter account aimed a brutal dig at the midfielder.
As spotted on Arsenal reddit, the post read: “The Ceballos red doesn’t change anything. We already had a man advantage with him ON the pitch.”
That post clearly showed just how bad of a game the Villarreal USA social media team thought Ceballos was having that him being sent-off was a boost for Mikel Arteta’s side.