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Aubameyang completes Arsenal's Europa League comeback against Rennes

The Gunners progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition after a 4-3 aggregate win.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wears a Black Panther mask after scoring for Arsenal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wears a Black Panther mask after scoring for Arsenal.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG scored a brace to send Arsenal into the quarter-finals of the Europa League, their 3-0 home win securing a 4-3 aggregate victory against Rennes.

With the Ligue 1 side leading 3-1 from the first leg, Aubameyang and Ainsley Maitland-Niles scored in the first 15 minutes of Thursday’s return to draw Arsenal level on aggregate.

Rennes had chances to snatch a last-eight spot at Emirates Stadium on Thursday, with M’Baye Niang cracking a strike against the post at 3-3, but Aubameyang struck again in the 72nd minute.

Only one side in Europa League knockout history had previously successfully overturned a 3-1 first-leg defeat – Fulham downing Serie A giants Juventus in 2009-10 – but Arsenal moved into the quarters, where they could face London rivals Chelsea.

Arsenal needed a fast start and they got one, opening the scoring in the fifth minute when Maitland-Niles and Aaron Ramsey combined down the right channel to tee up Aubameyang for a simple close-range finish.

Arsenal v Rennes - UEFA Europa League - Round of 16 - Second Leg - Emirates Stadium Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates scoring Arsenal's first goal of the game. Source: John Walton

And the Gunners were soon on level terms in the tie, Maitland-Niles arriving at the back post to steer home a downward header from Aubameyang’s cross, Rennes having paused for an offside flag that did not come.

But Arsenal’s tempo slipped and a run from Hatem Ben Arfa – an outcast under current Gunners boss Unai Emery at Paris Saint-Germain – ended with a tame shot at Petr Cech.

A buoyed Rennes then hit the post after the restart, Niang beating former Rennes goalkeeper Cech but not the woodwork after Shkodran Mustafi gave the ball away near his own box.

Substitute Alex Iwobi rifled wide from the edge of the penalty area as Arsenal tried to settle the tie before Aubameyang came up with what proved the decisive goal in the 72nd minute.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan sent Sead Kolasinac clear into space on the left wing to deliver a low cross and Aubameyang was there to tuck home, celebrating the goal by wearing a Black Panther mask.

Aubameyang’s cutting edge

Gabon international Aubameyang is more used to featuring in the Champions League than Europe’s second-tier competition, but his early impact with a goal and an assist was decisive for the Gunners.

Aubameyang had not scored in the competition since September so breaking his duck to get Arsenal up and running was timely, then he struck again late on for his sixth brace of the season in all competitions. He should have had a hat-trick, too, missing two late chances to secure the match ball.

Bernard Jackman joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey on The42 Rugby Weekly as Ireland bid to spoil Wales’ Grand Slam party in Cardiff, and the U20s target their own piece of history.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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