Mathieu Flamini’s first act after coming on as a substitute against Barcelona was to concede a penalty that, in all likelihood, ended any hopes Arsenal had of advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Frenchman replaced Francis Coquelin in the 82nd minute of the game. A minute later, he fouled Lionel Messi inside the area and gave away the penalty that led to the game-clinching goal.
He certainly made an impact on the game, just not the one Arsene Wenger was hoping for.
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Twitter, of course, had an absolute field day. Flamini was torn to shreds on the social media site and he certainly won’t want to check out his mentions when he returns home from the Emirates Stadium.
Take a look at the best tweets aimed at the Frenchman below.
As cameo appearances go, Flamini’s will go down as one of the worst in football history.
There were 47 seconds between his appearance and his foul. 47 seconds behind him coming on in a bid to shore up Arsenal’s midfield and him ending any hopes of a surprise victory.
Arsenal were already trailing when the defensive midfielder erred, Messi putting the away side ahead in the 71st minute when he finished off a sublime Barcelona counter-attack.
Before that moment it had been a relatively even game - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came close to giving Arsenal the lead midway through the first half but scuffed an effort straight at Marc Andre Ter-Stegen, while Barcelona’s Luis Suarez saw a header flash inches wide moments before the interval.
The Spanish side’s class prevailed in the end, though. It was an extra special night for Messi, who took his tally to 29 for the season, considering he had never scored past Petr Cech in any of his six previous meetings with the Czech goalkeeper.
That duck came to an end at the Emirates, where Cech was taking on the Argentine for the first time as an Arsenal player following his move from Chelsea in the summer.
Wenger admitted to BT Sport post-game that his team were “naive” and he will now surely focus his attentions to the Premier League. Barring an incredible collapse from Barcelona at the Camp Nou, his team have almost no chance of overcoming the deficit.
Flamini could start for the Gunners in the return leg if Wenger opts against selecting his strongest team given their intense fixture list. Arsenal fans will not want to see their side humiliated by Luis Enrique’s team, but it would perhaps be unwise to play Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez given that the tie is effectively over.
For Barcelona, their hunt to win back-to-back trebles is still on. They weren’t at their scintillating best and yet still managed to win with a cushion.
Their rivals will be petrified.
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