Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in seven of his last eight cup games for Arsenal
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a dramatic late winner to help Arsenal get past Benfica into the last 16 of the Europa League.
In a home game at Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece due to Covid-19 restrictions, Aubameyang opened the gate to give the Gunners a 2-1 lead.
Diogo Goncalves hit Benfica with an excellent free kick just before the break after Dani Ceballos fouled Julian Weigl unnecessarily.
The Spanish midfielder amplified that mistake after the break with a bad defensive header that Rafa Silva managed to put the visitors in the lead.
With Arsenal needing two goals to advance due to the away goals rule, Kieran Tierney’s minor drive put up a grandstand before Aubameyang saved the draw.
Mikel Arteta’s team will discover their last 16 opponents at the draw on Friday in Nyon (12:00 GMT).
Arsenal avoid another Greek tragedy
After Olympiakos withdrew from the Europa League at the same time last season, it looked like circumstances had conspired for another European campaign to end in desperation.
Given a four hour flight for a game that was technically settled in a “home” and stadium where they had mixed fortunes in the past, Arteta’s side got off to a bright enough start.
When Aubameyang raced to Bukayo Saka’s sharp pass to lift the ball over Benfica goalkeeper Helton Leite, they were in control after the 1-1 draw at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.
But from that point on, the game began to unravel when Benfica scored from their first two attempts – thanks to a helping hand from Ceballos.
To their credit, the Gunners, who had won just one of their last six games, showed great determination to return from the brink of a damaging defeat that would certainly have shattered their hopes of winning a trophy this season.
Tierney was rewarded for his good individual performance by becoming the first Scottish player to score for the club in a major European competition since 1980.
And Aubameyang, who was criticized after several missed opportunities in the first leg, atone for his second goal on the night from Saka’s back post cross.
Aside from saving Arteta the inevitable questions about the club’s progress under his leadership, it also provided the Gabonese striker with an element of redemption after his time last breath sealed her fate against Olympiacos 12 months ago.
Leno’s landmark – the statistics
- Arsenal have made the last 16 of the Europa League in three of the four seasons it competed in, with the only exception in 2019-20 (eliminated in the last 32).
- Benfica suffered their first Europa League defeat since February 2020 against Shakhtar Donetsk (1: 2), ending their eight undefeated round in the competition.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in seven of his last eight cup games for Arsenal (a total of 10 goals – FA Cup – five, Europa League – four, Community Shield – one) and only scored against Benfica in the first leg.
- Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (20) has more assists among English players for Premier League clubs in all competitions than Bukayo Saka (18) since the beginning of last season after receiving two assists tonight.
- Diogo Goncalves equalizer for Benfica was the first Europa League direct free-kick since February 2014 (Nicolas Gaitan v PAOK Saloniki).
- Kieran Tierney was the first Scot to score for Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners Cup in a major European competition since Willie Young against IFK Gothenburg in March 1980.
- Bernd Leno competed for Arsenal for the 100th time and was the fifth German player to achieve this milestone for the club after Jens Lehmann (200), Per Mertesacker (221), Mesut Ozil (254) and Shkodran Mustafi (151) reached.
More will follow.
Player of the game
- 2BellerinReplaced byLacazetteat the 78 ‘protocol
- 23David Luiz
- 8thCeballosReplaced bypartyat the 63 ‘protocol
- 7thSaysReplaced byChambersat the 90 ‘protocol
- 11ØdegaardReplaced byElnenyat the 90 ‘protocol
- 32Smith RoweReplaced byWillianat the 63 ‘protocol
- 17thCédric Soares
4thVerissimo da Silva30thOtamendi5Vertonghen
17thGoncalves Cupid21stAfonso Fernandes28Weigl49Taarabt3Grimaldo
- 77Aleixo Leite
- 4thVerissimo da Silva
- 17thGoncalves Cupid
- 21stAfonso FernandesReplaced bySousa Soaresat the 58 ‘protocol
- 28WeiglReplaced byWaldschmidtat the 90 ‘protocol
- 49TaarabtBooked at 5 minutesReplaced byAppeal Piresat the 58 ‘protocol
- 3GrimaldoReplaced byTavaresat the 85 ‘protocol
- 27Ferreira Silva
- 14thSeferovicReplaced byNunezat the 57 ‘protocol
- 7thSousa Soares
- 8thAppeal Pires
- 38Delmino da Silva
- 88Matias Ramos
End of game, Arsenal 3, Benfica 2.
The second half ends, Arsenal 3, Benfica 2.
Foul by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal).
Rafa (Benfica) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Offside Benfica. Nuno Tavares tries a through ball, but Rafa is offside.
Substitution, Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny replaces Martin Ødegaard.
Substitution, Arsenal. Calum Chambers replaces Bukayo Saka.
Substitution, Benfica. Gian-Luca Waldschmidt replaces Julian Weigl.
Goal! Arsenal 3, Benfica 2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) header from close range to the center of the goal. Assisted by Bukayo Saka with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Gabriel Pires (Benfica) left footed shot from the center of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nuno Tavares with a cross.
Substitution, Benfica. Nuno Tavares replaces Alejandro Grimaldo.
Foul by Gabriel Magalhães (Arsenal).
Darwin Núñez (Benfica) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Arsenal. Alexandre Lacazette replaces Héctor Bellerín.
Missed attempt. The right-footed shot by Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) from the right side of the box is too high.
Away from Arsenal. Thomas Partey tries a pass, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is caught offside.
Missed attempt. Darwin Nuñez (Benfica) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Missed attempt. David Luiz (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Missed attempt. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) header from the center of the box missed the goal on the right. Assisted by Kieran Tierney with a cross.
Goal! Arsenal 2, Benfica 2. Kieran Tierney (Arsenal) shot a left footed shot from the left side of the box into the lower right corner. Prepared by Willian.