Holders Bayern Munich begin their Champions League defence with the visit of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, in a game that will pit Robert Lewandowski against Luis Suarez.

Liverpool, winners in 2019, travel to Ajax, and Real Madrid host Shakhtar Donetsk, with two of the competition's most successful clubs hoping to avoid some worrying runs of defeats.

Antonio Conte's Inter tackle Borussia Monchengladbach and Manchester City host Porto, a team who boast a rather unfortunate record when it comes to games on English soil.

Here is some of the key Opta data from day two of matchday one.

Ajax v Liverpool: Can Firmino stop the rot?

This will be Liverpool's first meeting with Ajax since the 1966-67 European Cup, when the Dutch side prevailed 7-3 on aggregate in the last 16.

Liverpool's campaign last season ended at the same stage with back-to-back losses to Atletico Madrid. Should they lose in Amsterdam, it will be the first time since Brendan Rodgers was in charge in October to November 2014 that they have suffered three consecutive Champions League defeats.

Perhaps Roberto Firmino is the man to help them. He has been directly involved in 26 goals (15 scored, 11 assisted) in 33 Champions League matches; since his debut in 2017-18, the only other player with 10 or more goals and assists in that time is Kylian Mbappe (13 goals, 13 assists).

 

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid: Lewandowski has history in his sights

Bayern were the first team in history to win every game en route to lifting the trophy last season, and their 11-game winning run is already the longest ever in the competition.

Should Robert Lewandowski score, he will become the first player to do so in 10 Champions League group games in a row. He currently shares the record of nine with Cristiano Ronaldo, who did so from 2012 to 2014.

Atletico have only won twice in their previous 10 group games away from home, but Luis Suarez could give them the boost they need – he has scored five goals in his last five starts in the competition, as many as he managed in his previous 31 starts combined.

 

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk: Zidane puts 100 per cent record on the line

Real Madrid have been in the Champions League group stage 28 times and have never failed to reach the next round. Leeds United, who did so twice, are the only other team to feature in more than one group stage and boast a 100 per cent record.

That said, Madrid lost their final two games last season – both legs of the last-16 tie with Manchester City – and losing to Shakhtar Donetsk would put them on a three-match losing streak in the Champions League or European Cup for the first time since September 1986.

With captain Sergio Ramos injured, Zinedine Zidane will have concerns about his defence. At least the forward line is in capable hands: Karim Benzema has managed four goals and two assists across six consecutive home games in the competition, and Shakhtar have failed to keep a clean sheet in 22 Champions League matches in a row.

Manchester City v Porto: More English misery?

Porto have played 20 away games against English sides in Europe and have failed to win any. In fact, they have lost 17 of those games and have not scored in the previous seven. They do at least go into this contest off a run of just two defeats in 16 Champions League group-stage matches.

City have a pretty strong recent record in the group stage, having gone unbeaten in 11 games since a surprise 2-1 loss to Lyon in September 2018. They also have Raheem Sterling in sharp form: the forward has scored 20 goals in the competition since his debut for City in September 2015, a tally only Harry Kane can match among English players in that time.

 

Other fixtures:

Inter v Borussia Monchengladbach:

9 – Romelu Lukaku has scored nine goals in 11 appearances in European competition for Inter. Since the start of last season, only Robert Lewandowski (15) and Erling Haaland (10) have netted more across the Champions League and Europa League.

8 – Strike partner Lautaro Martinez has scored five in six Champions League starts and eight in 14 in Europe overall for the Nerazzurri.

 

Salzburg v Lokomotiv Moscow:

10 – Since September 2018, Lokomotiv Moscow have lost 10 Champions League games, more than any other club in that time.

16 – Salzburg scored 16 group-stage goals last season but finished third in their group. The only other team to score that many and get knocked out were Chelsea in 2012-13.

 

Midtjylland v Atalanta:

16 – Atalanta have scored at least once in 16 of their previous 17 European games, including nine in three matches in last season's knockouts. Josip Ilicic has nine goals in 13 European appearances for the club.

18 – Midtjylland conceded 18 goals in eight matches in the 2015-16 Europa League, their previous involvement in Europe. No team conceded more that season.

 

Olympiacos v Marseille:

3 – This will be Andre Villas-Boas' first Champions League game since March 2016. He has lost his most recent three matches in the competition.

41 – Steve Mandanda has made 41 appearances in the competition, the most for any Marseille player in history. The goalkeeper accounts for 37 per cent of the total games played by current Marseille players in this tournament.

Former Bayern Munich defender Rafinha has returned to Europe with Olympiacos after a brief stint with Flamengo.

Rafinha, 34, joined Flamengo in June 2019 and enjoyed a trophy-laden spell that included the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores last year.

But, following coach Jorge Jesus' decision to move back over the Atlantic Ocean to re-join Benfica, Rafinha has also opted to return to Europe, where he had previously spent 14 years of his career.

The former Brazil international spent five seasons with Schalke from 2005, before a solitary campaign in Italy at Genoa.

He then joined Bayern in 2011 and was there until completing his move to Flamengo last year.

Liverpool have confirmed the signing of defender Konstantinos Tsimikas on a long-term deal.

A Greece international who plays at left-back, Tsimikas joins the Premier League champions from Olympiacos for a reported fee of £11.7million (€13m).

The arrival of the 24-year-old provides an additional option to Andy Robertson, covering an area of need in Jurgen Klopp's squad ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Liverpool had also been linked with Norwich City's Jamal Lewis, though reports suggested they were unable to come close to agreeing a fee for the Northern Ireland international.

"I'm very happy, I'm very proud to be here. For me, [it's] the biggest club in the world," Tsimikas told Liverpool's official website. "It's an honour to be here and I will give my best."

"The league here, I like a lot. I watch it on the TV and it was always one dream I had from when I was a kid to come to play in this league and to come through.

"With a lot of work and focus on what I do and what the coach wants, and every day working hard in training, I can be on the highest level.

"[I want] to achieve [our] goals. To win the league again and also to win the Champions League."

Tsimikas played in both legs as Olympiacos knocked Arsenal out of the Europa League, though their run in the competition was ended by Wolves in the following round.

His addition provides competition at a position Robertson has made his own. The Scotland international played in 36 league games in the title-winning campaign, with Klopp also using midfielder James Milner in the role.

Could Paulo Dybala swap Italy for Spain?

The Juventus attacker was close to leaving Juventus for either Manchester United or Tottenham prior to the 2019-20 season, while Paris Saint-Germain were also linked.

Now, Real Madrid are reportedly targeting the 26-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – KROOS OUT, DYBALA IN?

Real Madrid are set to offer Toni Kroos or Isco as part of a deal to bring Juventus star Paulo Dybala to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to SportMediaset.

LaLiga champions Madrid are eyeing a move for Dybala, who has been in negotiations with Serie A titleholders Juve over a new contract amid reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Juve are unwilling to part with the Argentina international – who enjoyed a fine Serie A campaign prior to Maurizio Sarri's sacking as he looks ahead to life under Andrea Pirlo.

ROUND-UP

- Kicker claims Jadon Sancho has told Borussia Dortmund he is happy to stay at the club if a blockbuster transfer to Manchester United fails to materialise. The England international has been heavily tipped to join United, with personal terms reportedly agreed.

Barcelona want to sign Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, reports The Telegraph. The LaLiga giants are eyeing a cash-plus-player deal to try to prise the Portugal international to Camp Nou.

- Premier League champions Liverpool are poised to sign Olympiacos left-back Kostas Tsimikas, according to widespread reports. Having failed to strike a deal with Norwich City for Jamal Lewis, Liverpool are close to prising Tsimikas from the Greek powerhouse. Meanwhile, The Sun says Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are targeting a shock £35million swoop for Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks.

- The front page of Monday's edition of Marca says Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane must sell before he is able to sign players ahead of the 2020-21 season. Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez are two players unwanted in the Spanish capital as Madrid continue to be linked with the likes of PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe, Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

- AS Diario reports Villarreal are on the verge of signing Valencia pair Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin. Valencia captain Parejo and team-mate Coquelin have been told they are free to leave Mestalla.

Napoli have joined the race to sign Madrid full-back Sergio Reguilon claims Sky Sport Italia. On loan at Sevilla, Reguilon has been linked to Chelsea and Everton.

- According to Calciomercato, Inter are interested in Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. However, salary demands may prove problematic amid talk of a swap deal involving Inter defender Milan Skriniar.

Raul Jimenez's 27th goal of the season earned Wolves a 1-0 Europa League victory over Olympiacos and a 2-1 aggregate success that booked their quarter-final place.

The Greek side had knocked Arsenal out of the competition on their previous visit to England, but another Premier League scalp proved beyond them thanks to Jimenez's early penalty.

Mady Camara thought he had levelled in the first half but a goal that would have forced extra time was ruled out by VAR as Youssef El-Arabi was adjudged offside in the build-up.

Wolves led just eight minutes in when goalkeeper Bobby Allain barged Daniel Podence to the floor, with Jimenez converting the spot-kick for his 37th goal involvement of the campaign - the joint-most with Kevin De Bruyne this term among Premier League players.

Olympiacos thought they had levelled in the 28th minute through Camara's effort, which deflected in off Willy Boly, but, after a lengthy delay, El-Arabi was found to have just strayed offside prior to delivering the cross.

An audacious 25-yard rabona attempt from Jimenez then went over the top, while Podence was denied by Allain in the second half.

Substitute Diogo Jota wasted a golden chance to wrap up the tie when he squandered a one-on-one chance and Wolves were indebted to Rui Patricio's brilliant point-blank save from Ahmed Hassan with nine minutes to go.

Nuno Espirito Santo's team will face Sevilla in the last eight in Germany next week.

Five months after the Champions League and Europa League were halted, the continent's creme de la creme are ready to finish what they started.

Atletico Madrid's dramatic extra-time win at Anfield seems an age ago, as does Manchester United's 5-0 thrashing of LASK, with those results two of the final matches to occur before the coronavirus pandemic suspended the season.

Now, with those domestic leagues and cup competitions that did return having finished, the focus is solely on Europe's elite.

The Europa League resumes on Wednesday, with the Champions League coming back on Friday - both competitions reaching a conclusion this month with mini tournaments taking place in different countries.

Here, we detail the who, what, why, where and when.

 

PREVIOUSLY ON... THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AND EUROPA LEAGUE

Both the Europa League and the Champions League are at the last-16 stage, but while all 16 teams remain in the Europa League, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Tottenham are all out of Europe's premier club competition.

Their conquerors - Atletico, Paris Saint-Germain, Atalanta and RB Leipzig - all won across two legs prior to pause being pressed on the campaign.

Only six of the eight first legs in the Europa League happened, with four away teams - United, Bayer Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donetsk and Basel claiming advantages, while Istanbul Basaksehir beat Copenhagen 1-0 in Turkey and Wolves drew 1-1 at Olympiacos.

With Spain and Italy being two of the countries initially hardest hit by the pandemic, Sevilla's tie with Roma and Inter's fixture against Getafe could not begin. 

 

SO HOW WILL THIS ROUND CONCLUDE?

Let's deal with the Champions League first.

PSG and Atalanta can put their feet up knowing their quarter-final begins on August 12, the day before Leipzig face Atletico Madrid.

Four last-16 ties remain and the quartet of home teams in the second leg - Manchester City, Juventus, Barcelona and Bayern Munich - will respectively host Real Madrid, Lyon, Napoli and Chelsea in their own stadiums without fans present.

That is also the case in the Europa League, though Sevilla's clash with Roma, and Inter's encounter with Getafe will now be one-off fixtures at neutral venues in Germany.

 

AND FROM THE QUARTER-FINALS ONWARDS?

Due to the need to get this thing wrapped up quickly before the 2020-21 season begins, both the Champions League and Europa League have done away with two-legged affairs for the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Instead every last-eight and last-four match will be decided across 90 minutes - or 120 minutes, or a penalty shoot-out should they be required.

And with the pandemic still a very real threat, the two competitions will be concluded in one city to minimise travel and reduce the risk of spreading COVID within the squads.

Benfica's Estadio da Luz will be the venue for the Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final between August 12 and 23, while those comparative stages in the Europa League, taking place between August 10 and 21, will be staged in Cologne.

 

WILL ALL THE PLAYERS STILL BE INVOLVED?

This stage of the football calendar is typically transfer time and even a global pandemic could not stop that.

So Leipzig's Timo Werner, who scored four times for the Bundesliga club in their run to the last eight, is now on Chelsea's books while winger Leroy Sane has swapped Manchester City for Bayern Munich. Neither man will be able to play for either their new team or their old.

Those like Achraf Hakimi, a recent Inter signing from Dortmund, will also be reduced to a watching brief.

It is a different case for Hakimi's new team-mate Alexis Sanchez, who has been included in Antonio Conte's squad for the latter stages after terms were reached on a loan extension with Manchester United - though a new arrangement will need to be made for him to be available from the quarter-finals onwards.

Sanchez's parent club were not willing to let Roma have loanee Chris Smalling any longer, though, the English centre-back having bade farewell to the Eternal City on Tuesday ahead of his return to United, for whom he cannot feature either given his prior involvement with the Giallorossi.

Manchester United are set to face either Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who hold a 5-0 lead from the first leg of their last-16 tie with LASK, could then meet Wolves, Olympiacos, Roma or Sevilla in the last four. 

Antonio Conte's Inter will take on either Bayer Leverkusen or Rangers in the last eight, if they defeat Getafe in the last 16. 

Shakhtar Donetsk or Wolfsburg will face Eintracht Frankfurt or Basel in the other quarter-final. 

The matches between Getafe and Inter, and Roma and Sevilla, will be held as one-off games at neutral venues in Germany as the first legs could not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

All other remaining last-16 ties were able to complete their first legs, meaning the reverse fixtures will be held at the home team's stadiums. 

Those games will take place over August 5-6 before the quarter-finals begin from August 10, with those matches being staged in Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen. 

The semi-final venues are yet to be confirmed, but the final on August 21 will be held in Cologne. 

Quater-final draw:

Shakhtar Donetsk or Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt or Basel
Manchester United or LASK v Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen
Inter or Getafe v Bayer Leverkusen or Rangers
Wolves or Olympiacos v Roma or Sevilla

Semi-final draw:

Winner of QF4 v Winner of QF2
Winner of QF3 v Winner of QF1

Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis has funded a new intensive care unit at a Greek hospital worth more than €1.5million.

Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus on March 10 and was treated back in his homeland.

The 52-year-old announced two weeks later that he had fully recovered from the virus and praised the "hero" health workers who treated him.

Marinakis has now contributed money towards an ICU at the General Public Hospital of Nikaia.

In a statement, Olympiacos said Marinakis had provided "once more a helping hand so that our public health system may cope with the huge challenges that have occurred".

They said: "The leader of Olympiacos along with Mrs. Aggeliki Fragkou and ΙΟΝ SA ΙΟΝ Α.Ε. donated an amount that exceeded €1.5m in total to be used for the procurement of 12 fully-equipped ICUs spaces (ICU-specific beds, high-tech ventilators, specific monitors, pumps, defibrillators, etc..), payment of all required installation and room configuration costs, E/M works, health and medical equipment, as well as all additional costs of the additional extension of the Hospital's intensive care unit."

It is hoped the new facility will be ready to receive patients in the next two months.

Greece has recorded 2,011 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 90 deaths.

With precious few sporting events taking place due to the coronavirus, we looked back through sporting history to identify key and major events to take place on this day.

March 18 has proven a busy day down the years, but we have highlighted five particularly memorable or notable occasions.

From the formation of a world-renowned football club, to the suspicious death of a former cricketer, below we have everything you need for a little education, or a trip down memory lane.

 

1900 – Ajax are formed

March 18 is a momentous day not only for Dutch football, but for the entire sport globally. On this day in 1900, Ajax were formed by Floris Stempel (their first chairman), Hen Dade (sports director) and Carel Reeser. Named after the mythological Greek war hero Ajax, most known for fighting against Troy in the Trojan War, the club has since gone on to dominate much of Dutch football history and influenced many of the most famous ideologies and philosophies in the world game.

1942 – Two black players try out for Chicago White Sox

Jackie Robinson is remembered as an iconic baseball player, in more ways than one. Regarded a great for his exploits with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was also the first black player to break the colour barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. However, he could have made the move from the 'Negro Leagues' five years earlier, as on March 18, 1942, Robinson and Nate Moreland – who was also black – had a trial with the Chicago White Sox. Manager Jimmy Dykes acknowledged their abilities, but he did not sign either, doubtful the White Sox would allow black players to join.

2000 – England win inaugural Six Nations

The Six Nations has had many forms through the years, initially starting off as a tournament between the British 'Home Nations' and then becoming the Five Nations. It was further expanded to its current guise in 2000 as Italy joined the fold. England won the inaugural Six Nations, thrashing the newcomers 57-12 in Rome – Jonny Wilkinson's kicking and Austin Healey's hat-trick of tries doing the damage.

2007 – Former cricketer and coach Bob Woolmer found dead

On March 18, 2007, one day after his Pakistan team were knocked out of the Cricket World Cup, coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room. Initially he was thought to have had a heart attack, only for another pathologist's report to suggest he had been murdered. Further reports proposed health problems contributed to his passing, but a jury later returned an open verdict, unable to rule out the theory Woolmer was strangled. Other prominent former cricketers have since claimed Woolmer did not die of natural causes.

2012 – Panathinaikos v Olympiacos leads to chaos

Those familiar with Greek football – and specifically the rivalries involved – will not be unaware of the problems often seen when Olympiacos and Panathinaikos face each other. In March 2012, the disturbances were particularly serious, as Panathinaikos were losing 1-0 at home to their bitter rivals. The second half was initially delayed by 45 minutes due to fans throwing flares and Molotov cocktails at police, and the contest was eventually abandoned. Twenty police officers were hurt, 50 fans were arrested, three fire engines were required to tackle blazes, and Pana were docked five points on top of having to play four games behind closed doors.

Pedro Neto's deflected equaliser earned Wolves a 1-1 draw away to 10-man Olympiacos in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie.

After Ruben Semedo's first-half red card, Youssef El-Arabi put the hosts ahead in front at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, with Thursday's game being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis having tested positive.

In a pre-match interview with BT Sport, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said the decision to play the game was "absurd", and his side delivered a flat performance, though Neto's fortuitous strike earned a potentially decisive away goal.

UEFA is set to rule on whether the Europa League will be postponed amid the crisis, but the second leg is set for next week as it stands.

Giorgos Masouras clipped the crossbar with a poor early effort, but the offside flag was raised regardless, and Olympiacos were then reduced to 10 men in the 28th minute.

Wolves broke at pace down the left, and Semedo clumsily brought down Diogo Jota on the edge of the box, prompting referee Clement Turpin to show the red card.

Neto replaced Matt Doherty in an attacking half-time change for Wolves, but the 10 men took the lead in the 54th minute.

Guilherme jinked into the right side of the box and squared for El-Arabi to tap in his 19th goal of the season from close range.

Wolves levelled 13 minutes later, though, Neto's free-kick taking a huge deflection off Andreas Bouchalakis to beat Jose Sa, who earlier blocked a ferocious Raul Jimenez drive with his face.

Nuno sent on ex-Olympiacos star Daniel Podence in search of a late winner, but the tie remains finely poised.

Olympiacos have announced that their players and staff have all tested negative for coronavirus, a day after it was revealed the club's owner Evangelos Marinakis had COVID-19.

Marinakis, who also owns Championship club Nottingham Forest, confirmed on Instagram that he had been diagnosed with coronavirus after showing symptoms of the illness upon returning to Greece on Monday.

Following that news, Olympiacos' players, board and staff members were all tested for COVID-19 and the club have confirmed that no one else has the virus.

"Olympiacos FC informs that after the required medical exams to which all the members of the football staff, as well as board members and staff, were submitted, all the tests came out negative for the COVID-19 virus," the club said in a statement on Wednesday morning.

Olympiacos host Wolves in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday and the game is set to go ahead behind closed doors despite the Premier League side's protestations.

Wolves asked for UEFA to postpone the fixture in light of Marinakis' positive test, stating that "the trip poses unnecessary risk to our players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel", yet European football's governing body rejected the request.

Olympiacos had progressed to the last 16 by beating Arsenal on away goals thanks to a 2-1 success in London on February 27.

Marinakis was at that fixture and had "come into contact" with personnel from the Gunners, which has led to Arsenal's Premier League fixture against Manchester City, scheduled for Wednesday, being postponed as a precaution.

Arsenal's players are self-isolating at home while four staff members will also remain at home until the two weeks are complete - dating back to the last time they had contact 13 days ago.

Wolves asked for UEFA to postpone Thursday's Europa League last-16 match at Olympiacos, only for European football's governing body to reject their request.

The opening leg will take place behind closed doors in line with Greek government policy aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus.

Earlier on Tuesday, Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 in Greece, placing the fixture in doubt.

Wolves issued a statement to express disappointment over the decision to proceed with the match.

The statement read: "Our position is that the trip poses unnecessary risks to our players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times.

"Our concern is also for our opponents, whose players and staff have today been tested, and will now be expected to play their part in an important fixture, under the difficult and challenging circumstances of their owner suffering with the virus.

"There is also disappointment that the match will be played without home and away supporters, as that is part of what makes European competition so special, as well as the fact our fans have already contended with similar obstacles on our Europa League journey already this season.

"We believe that there are some things that are more important than football, and that the good health of our pack and the general public is one of them. However, we respect the decision of UEFA and the integrity of the competition, and we will travel tomorrow to Greece to play the fixture.

"We hope that our request to UEFA, and our acceptance of their decision, can act as the catalyst for them to consider alternative options moving forwards, as this will not be the last fixture to be affected by coronavirus."

Earlier this month, Wolves sought to take a pro-active measure against coronavirus by banning players from taking selfies with fans.

Wolves' Europa League last-16 first-leg tie at Olympiacos will be played behind closed doors, as will Sevilla's clash with Roma, UEFA has confirmed.

The two matches on Thursday are the latest to be impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

The Greek government enforced a temporary suspension of spectators attending sporting events on Sunday, with 73 confirmed cases of the virus in the country as of Monday.

UEFA subsequently affirmed the decision would affect Olympiacos in European competition, and Wolves will refund travelling fans who bought tickets.

Meanwhile, Roma's trip to Sevilla likewise will not allow supporters, following the example of Valencia v Atalanta – a Champions League encounter between Spanish and Italian teams.

The fixture will go ahead in Spain, where there are 999 cases and 16 deaths, although sporting events in Italy have been halted until April 3.

Italy is the European country most heavily affected by the virus, with 7,375 cases and 366 deaths.

A number of Serie A fixtures had been postponed even before Monday's decision to implement a four-week stoppage.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta acknowledged it will be "very hard" for the Gunners to secure Champions League qualification via the Premier League after crashing out of the Europa League.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's stunning late miss in the final seconds saw Arsenal eliminated by Greek visitors Olympiacos, who sensationally prevailed 2-2 on away goals following Thursday's 2-1 extra-time victory.

Arsenal won the last-32 first-leg 1-0 but extra time was needed after Pape Abou Cisse's restored parity for Olympiacos across two legs at the Emirates Stadium.

Aubameyang looked to have settled the contest with seven minutes remaining in extra time but Youssef El-Arabi's silenced the London crowd before the former remarkably squandered a last-gasp opportunity.

Winning the Europa League would have gained Arsenal access to the Champions League, having not featured in Europe's premier club competition since 2016-17, but the Gunners now face an uphill battle as they sit ninth in the Premier League – seven points adrift of the top four.

"Very hard because looking at the table we're still far from the objectives that we all have, but we've been far all season from it and we have to keep fighting," Arteta, who replaced Unai Emery in December, told reporters post-match when asked about the difficulties of reaching the top four.

"The most important thing now is that the dressing room has to be strong and we have to keep going and react. First of all, I have to convince them about what happened in the game and why they are not through in the tie.

"If they continue to do that, there will be rewards like we have done in the last 10 games that we played."

Arteta added: "I just want to concentrate now on lifting those players and getting back the belief, and convince them that there is still a lot to play for, and move on.

"It's part of this sport that a big disappointment can happen and it happened. We have to learn and react as a team and as a club."

While it was a heartbreaking evening for Arsenal, it was a memorable outing for Pedro Martins and Olympiacos.

"It's a historic night for Olympiacos. We deserved this qualification, not only for these two games against Arsenal but also for our spirited performances in Europe throughout the season regardless of the results," Martins said.

"We were determined, we believed we could qualify and we made it. Tactical intelligence, effectiveness, inner strength, courage… they all weighed in this success."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was left stunned after he missed a golden chance in the final seconds of Arsenal's dramatic Europa League defeat to Olympiacos.

Aubameyang, who had restored parity with a sublime overhead kick earlier in extra-time, sliced wide of a gaping goal moments after Youssef El-Arabi had prodded Olympiacos into a 2-1 lead in the 29th minute of extra-time at Emirates Stadium.

The miss ultimately proved the last action of the match, as Olympiacos – who had cancelled out Arsenal's 1-0 lead from the first leg early in the second half – progressed on away goals from a tie which finished 2-2 on aggregate.

And Aubameyang, who moved level with Jamie Vardy at the top of the Premier League scoring charts with a double against Everton on Sunday, offered no excuses for his error.

"I don't even know. I feel very, very bad," the striker told BT Sport as he attempted to explain the miss. "This can happen. I don't know how I missed this chance.

"I was tired and I had some cramps as well, but it is not an excuse. I have to score this goal, but it can happen."

Aubameyang added on Arsenal's exit from the competition: "What can I say? It's very, very hard, very tough. It was a tough game again.

"I think we missed putting some pace in the game – that cost us a little bit. Then the last minute goal was unlucky for us. That's it.

"We try to keep improving in the league and we'll try to win as many games as possible, and we'll see how many chances we have to qualify [for the Champions League]."

Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta conceded his side created their own issues in Thursday's encounter, but he is now focusing on the next step of rallying the Gunners.

"It hurts a lot. We had a lot of intentions in this competition. It was very important for us," he told BT Sport.

"Emotionally, it's been a very difficult game. We were in complete control. Again we conceded [from] a set-piece and it put the tie in a difficult position.

"It is a massive disappointment. But at the same time, I'm very proud of the players. I think the effort that they put in tonight has been incredible, how patient they are.

"It would have been an incredible lift if we had managed to win the game and go through the tie. We have to swallow that and we have to react as a team. They have my backing, completely, for the way they have played. But it's painful."

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