Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double has assured Arsenal of a place in the next round of the Europa League, but it was an assured team performance that deserves immense credit.
The Gunners started the match brightly. They were enjoying comfortable spells of possession, and were looking comfortable as they work their way up the field.
The breakthrough came from an amazing run of play. Bukayo Saka initially picked up the ball on the far right, before overlapping with his team-mates as he cut inside, and finds the perfect ball to split the defence from deep and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wasn’t going to waste his chance.
Benfica aren’t one to lay down, and it was another amazing goal to level the scores. Diogo Goncalves has fired in a pinperfect free-kick from a fair distance, and it is deep in the top left-hand corner.
We went into the break with worry, we knew at this point that any goal at the wrong end would leave us in need of two goals, but we started on the front foot.
Aubameyang again was at the front of things, as he once again made his run into the box to place his effort into the net, but the timing off his run was a little early this time.
Shortly after the dreaded event happened however. It was Arsenal’s corner which the goalkeeper managed to get control of, and he fires it deep as Rafi Silva runs through on goal. Our player stretches but is unable to redirect it and the forward is able to play it past Bernd Leno to pass it into the open goal.
Our team showed amazing mentality to stick to their task, and within minutes the score was tied again.
Kieran Tierney picks up the ball outside the box, and plays his way past the out-running defender to get into space, and fires down low to the keeper’s left.
We are back level once again, the third time in the 180 minute clash, and with 20 minutes to find a winner, or lose on away goals at a neutral stadium…
It was an amazing tie whichever way you looked at it, but this Arsenal team wasn’t going to lie down and take it.
It was another fine team effort, and after a run of possession, Saka received the ball down the right once again. This time the defender stands off the youngster, and he is allowed to cut back onto his left and place his cross in, and Aubameyang leaps high to score from point-blank range.
With only minutes remaining, Benfica were unable to pluck up the courage to earn any clearcut chances to get one final away goal, and the Gunners emerge through to the next round with a well-deserved display.
This show of passion and fight was a reminder of what motivation Arteta can bring to the side, and you would be silly to doubt our chances of going deep in the competition.