Aubameyang double helps Arsenal reach last eight
Emirates Stadium, Europa League - Arsenal 3 (Aubameyang 5’ 72’ Maitland-Niles 15’) Rennes 0 (Arsenal win 4-3 on aggregate)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired a classy double as Arsenal drubbed Rennes 3-0 to ease into the Europa League quarter-finals with a 4-3 aggregate victory.
Aubameyang hit Arsenal's opener on five minutes with Ainsley Maitland-Niles adding the second on 15 minutes as Unai Emery's side levelled up the tie 3-3 on aggregate after their 3-1 defeat in France a week ago.
Arsenal needed two goals, at least, and started without Sokratis Papastathopoulos in defence after last week's red card.
Following their 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday, success in the Europa League appeared a little less urgent, and victory here marks a return to form under Emery.
Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Arsenal and Stade Rennais at Emirates Stadium on March 14, 2019 in London, England.Getty Images
In the second half, Alexandre Lacazette should probably have walked for a rough challenge on Ramy Bensebaini having already been booked, but escaped proper punishment.
With the game in the balance, Aubameyang added a third for Arsenal to settle the tie and leave his side with a chance of lifting their first European trophy in more than two decades.
TALKING POINT Should Lacazette have been sent off?
At 2-0 down, Lacazette’s late tackle on Bensebaini would have ordinarily brought a yellow card, but the referee seemed reluctant to issue the punishment that would have seen him sent off. While the home side were well on top at that stage, Rennes can feel aggrieved they did not get a fair chance of competing over the two legs.
MAN OF THE MATCH Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
The striker gave his side a focal point for their attacks, and that proved its worth with both the first and third goals in the match. In the past Arsenal have struggled to break down sides, and they still do sometimes, but the striker’s performance today won the match.
- Arsenal: Cech 6, Maitland-Niles 6, Mustafi 6, Koscielny 6, Monreal 6, Kolasinac 7, Xhaka 6, Ramsey 7, Ozil 6, Lacazette 7, Aubameyang 8..subs: Mkhitaryan 7, Torreira 6, Iwobi 7.
- Rennes: Koubek 6, Traore 6, Da Silva 6, Mexer 6, Bensebaini 6, Andre 5, Grenier 5, Bourigeaud 5, Sarr 6, Ben Arfa 5, Niang 6..subs: Siliki 6.
- 5’ - GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Rennes. Aubameyang scores - Maitland-Niles comes down the right, cuts onto his left, finds Ramsey, and he turns in a low cross for Aubameyang to side-foot home.
- 15’ - GOAL! Arsenal 2-0 Rennes. Maitland-Niles scores - Aubameyang swaps passes with Ramsey - who was aiming for Kolasinac is an offside position - and runs to the touchline. He picks out a cross to the back post, where Maitland-Niles thunders in a header.
- 47’ - NIANG CHANCE - Grenier darts into the box from the left, picks out Niang on the edge of the area, and he drills in a low shot against the post.
- 71’ - IWOBI SHOT - Iwobi has the chance to settle the tie. Bringing down a high ball on the edge of the box, he fizzes in a low just just past the post.
- 72’ - GOAL! Arsenal 3-0 Rennes. Aubameyang scores - That's it for the match. Kolasinac is found out on the left, running into the box to receive the ball, and he squares it to give Aubameyang an easy chance to finish at the back post.
- 82’ - AUBAMEYANG MISS - Through on goal, Aubameyang nudges the ball wide of the oncoming Koubek, and it trundles just wide of the post.
- Arsenal are only the second side in Europa League history (2009-10 onwards) to progress after losing 3-1 in the first leg of a knockout tie, after Fulham against Juventus in 2009-10 (1-3 away, 4-1 home).
- Arsenal ended Rennes’ five game unbeaten run in the Europa League (W4 D1) courtesy of the French side’s biggest-ever margin of defeat in the competition.
- Arsenal have kept four consecutive clean sheets at home in European competition for the first time since April 2009 (6 in total in that run).
- Rennes were flagged offside 10 times against Arsenal, with only Besiktas caught offside more often in a single Europa League game this season (v Malmo in October 2018).
- Arsenal have over-hauled a two-goal deficit from the first-leg of a European tie for the first time since the Fairs Cup final against Anderlecht in 1970.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in 15 goals in his last 13 appearances at the Emirates (11 goals, 4 assists).
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 16 goals in all competitions at home for Arsenal this season; the last Gunners player to get more in a single season was Robin van Persie in 2011-12 (22 goals).
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored six braces in all competitions this season (2+ goals); more than any other Premier League player in 2018-19.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles was the 12th Arsenal player to score in the Europa League this season, the most of any side in the competition (excluding own-goals).