Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. James Williamson - AMA

'That's what friends are for': Aubameyang happy to give up hat-trick bid

The Arsenal forward scored a brace as the Gunners easily dispatched Stoke on Sunday afternoon.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG said he was happy to give up the chance to claim a hat-trick on Sunday, preferring to see Arsenal strike partner Alexandre Lacazette convert a confidence-boosting penalty

Arsenal defeated relegation-haunted Stoke 3-0 with Aubameyang scoring twice — a penalty and another from open play — with substitute Lacazette scoring the third, also from the spot a minute before time.

Aubameyang revealed he passed up the opportunity to score a maiden Arsenal hat-trick — he had scored two for Borussia Dortmund this season before his January transfer — because he wanted to help Lacazette.

The Frenchman had returned from injury for his first game since February 10 and accepted the gift gratefully.

Arsenal v Stoke City - Premier League Aubameyang celebrates team-mate Alexandre Lacazette scoring a penalty. Shaun Botterill Shaun Botterill

“I had scored twice already so I knew it would be good for his confidence,” Aubameyang explained.

Some managers do not allow anybody other than the designated penalty-taker to have a go from 12 yards but Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger made it clear he approved of the gesture.

“That shows the state of our society — that when people are generous they are surprised,” he said.

“Even more when it is footballers — and when it is strikers even more.

“I wasn’t surprised because I know they have a good understanding. I like that because it can only make the team stronger. I think it’s great.”

The win did nothing to alter the Gunners’ position of sixth in the Premier League table, and they are now concentrating on the Europa League, with CSKA Moscow due at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday for a quarter-final first leg clash.

© AFP 2018

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