Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rescued Arsenal’s Europa League campaign from the jaws of defeat as his late winner secured a dramatic 3-2 victory over Benfica in Greece.
Arsenal were staring down the barrel of elimination at the round-of-32 stage for the second successive season after Diogo Goncalves’ stunning first-half free-kick and Rafa Silva’s second – after a costly Dani Ceballos error – gifted Benfica the advantage after Aubameyang’s opener.
The collapse left Arsenal with half an hour to salvage their season, and they rose to the challenge in thrilling fashion.
Kieran Tierney’s venomous strike sparked the comeback, which was sealed with three minutes remaining when Aubameyang peeled away to the back post to head in Bukayo Saka’s cross, and Arsenal into the last 16 of the Europa League after a 4-3 aggregate win.
Arsenal: Leno (6), Bellerin (6), Luiz (6), Gabriel (6), Tierney (8), Ceballos (4), Xhaka (6), Odegaard (6), Smith Rowe (6), Aubameyang (8), Saka (8).
Subs: Lacazette (5), Willian (6), Partey (5), Chambers (n/a), Elneny (n/a).
Benfica: Leite (6), Verissimo (5), Otamendi (5), Vertonghen (5), Goncalves (7), Taarabt (5), Weigl (6), Silva (7), Grimaldo (6), Pizzi (6), Seferovic (5).
Subs: Everton (5), Gabriel (5), Nunez (5), Waldschmidt (n/a), Tavares (n/a).
Man of the match: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal keep Europa League dream alive – Match stats
- Arsenal have reached the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League in three of the four seasons they have appeared in the competition, with the only exception being in 2019-20 (eliminated at the last 32).
- Benfica suffered their first UEFA Europa League defeat since February 2020 against Shakhtar Donetsk (1-2), ending their eight-game unbeaten run in the competition.
- Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (20) has more assists among English players for Premier League clubs in all competitions since the start of last season than Bukayo Saka (18), following his two assists this evening.
- Diogo Gonçalves’ equaliser for Benfica was their first direct free-kick goal in the UEFA Europa League since February 2014 (Nicolás Gaitán v PAOK Salonika).
- Kieran Tierney became the first Scotsman to score for Arsenal in a major European competition since Willie Young against IFK Göteborg in March 1980 in the Cup Winners Cup quarter final.