Aubameyang rescues Arsenal against Benfica after Europa League scare

Arsenal are through to the Europa League round of 16 after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s late winner helped seal a thrilling 3-2 win against Benfica to progress 4-3 on aggregate.

The Gunners were the home side despite the match being played in Athens, and they had all the early possession as the Portuguese outfit looked nervous at the back and error-prone in the middle of the park.

And it was a brilliant ball from Bukayo Saka that cut open up the Benfica backline after 20 minutes, with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang needing just one touch to dink the over Helton into the net.

The Gunners were coasting and almost doubled their lead through Saka, but minutes before half-time Benfica rattled their opponents and put the brakes on Arsenal’s momentum as Diogo Goncalves scored a wonderful free-kick to level the tie once more.

From then on, it was the Benfica who looked the more dangerous side with the knowledge that a second away goal could put the game beyond their opponents.

And they scored that goal and gave themselves the lead when Dani Ceballos’ woeful header back to Bernd Leno was intercepted by Rafa Silva who gratefully rounded Leno to slot into an empty net.

With two goals needed, the tie looked beyond Arsenal but Kieran Tierney responded almost immediately with a rifled finish to level the match at 2-2.

The Gunners were relentless in their pursuit of a third goal that would put them through, and just as all hope looked lost, Saka produced another brilliant ball in for Aubameyang to head home at the back post to keep their season alive.

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