Arsenal’s 100% record in the Europa League this season ended as Bruno Duarte scored a 91st-minute equaliser for Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.
Shkodran Mustafi had provided the Gunners with the breakthrough with an unmarked header from a Nicolas Pepe free-kick with 10 minutes to go.
But Vitoria came to life in the closing stages and former Spurs man Marcus Edwards’ cross from the right caused confusion in the Arsenal defence, allowing Duarte to equalise with a scissor-kick.
The result was Arsenal’s fourth consecutive draw in all competitions in a turbulent week that saw Granit Xhaka stripped of the captaincy.
Group F leaders Arsenal will still qualify for the last 32 on Thursday if third-placed Standard Liege lose to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Arsenal fail to hold lead again
Arsenal manager Unai Emery made eight changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday, including handing the captain’s armband to defender Rob Holding with former skipper Xhaka not part of the squad.
The Switzerland captain was stripped of the captaincy following an angry confrontation with home fans during the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on 27 October.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who will take over as club captain from Xhaka, and German midfielder Mesut Özil also did not travel to Portugal.
Emery opted for a change in formation with a defensive back three of Holding, Sokratis and goalscorer Mustafi, with youngsters Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Kieran Tierney adding an attacking threat as wing-backs.
But for the second time in a week the Gunners were punished late on and failed to take all three points.
In a match played in torrential rain, the first half was largely uneventful with Vitoria showing early warning signs when their midfielder Pepe hit the post with a long-range effort and Edwards forced a good save from Emiliano Martinez.
Martinez was again called into action minutes later when a Vitoria free-kick found the unmarked Edmond Tapsoba but the centre-back’s flicked header was palmed away.
Vitoria keeper Douglas was not tested in the opening 45 minutes as the Gunners failed to register a shot on target despite dominating possession.
Arsenal’s best chance of the first half fell to Holding after clever play down the left-hand side by 18-year-old Bukayo Saka. The skipper for the match was unchallenged as he rose to meet the cross but his header went over the bar.
In the second half the Gunners began to take control and were rewarded on 80 minutes thanks to Mustafi’s header from a free-kick by Pepe, who scored twice from set-pieces against Vitoria in the final 10 minutes at Emirates Stadium two weeks ago to give his side a 3-2 win.
Another victory looked to have been sealed here but Arsenal’s defensive frailties were exposed in stoppage time as Vitoria found a late surge of tempo to put the Gunners under pressure and find an equaliser, earning them their first point in the Europa League this season.
Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and has been ruled out of the trip to Leicester on Saturday by Emery.
“He has a small injury but I don’t think he is going to be available this week.” he said.
Man of the match – Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal)
Arsenal travel to the King Power Stadium to face Brendan Rodgers’ high-flying Leicester in the Premier League at 17:30 GMT on Saturday. The Gunners are back in Europa League action on Thursday, 28 November against Eintracht Frankfurt at Emirates Stadium.
Best of the stats
- Arsenal have won just one of their eight away games against Portuguese opposition in all European competition (D4 L3).
- Arsenal have drawn their past four games in a row in all competitions, despite the Gunners having held a lead in all of these matches.
- Arsenal’s goal after 80 minutes came from their only effort on target in this match, while Vitoria’s 90th-minute leveller was their only shot on target in the second half.
- Eight of Shokdran Mustafi’s nine goals in all competitions for Arsenal have been headers.
- No Arsenal player has more assists in all competitions this season than Nicolas Pepe (four, level with Bukayo Saka).
- Vitoria’s Davidson has had more shots without finding the net than any other player in the Europa League this season (15), with the Brazilian having a further three attempts on Thursday.