Europa League - Round of 32 - 2nd Leg
ArsenalArsenal3BenficaBenfica2

Arsenal 3-2 Benfica (Agg 4-3): Gunners through to Europa League last 16

By Steve SutcliffeBBC Sport
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores his first goal
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in seven of his past eight cup matches for Arsenal

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a dramatic late winner to help Arsenal edge past Benfica into the last 16 of the Europa League.

In a 'home' leg played at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, Greece, because of Covid-19 restrictions, Aubameyang opened the scoring to give the Gunners a 2-1 aggregate lead.

Diogo Goncalves levelled for Benfica just before the break with a superb free-kick after Dani Ceballos had needlessly fouled Julian Weigl.

The Spanish midfielder compounded that error after the interval with a poor defensive header that saw Rafa Silva race clear to put the visitors in front.

With Arsenal needing two goals to advance because of the away goals rule, Kieran Tierney's low drive set up a grandstand finish before Aubameyang rescued the tie.

Mikel Arteta's side will discover their last-16 opponents in Friday's draw in Nyon (12:00 GMT).

Arsenal avoid another Greek exit

Having exited the Europa League at the same stage last season to Olympiakos, it looked as though circumstances had conspired for another European campaign to end in desperate fashion.

Faced with a four-hour flight for a fixture technically billed at home and inside a stadium where they have enjoyed mixed fortunes in the past, Arteta's side started brightly enough.

When Aubameyang raced on to Bukayo Saka's incisive pass to lift the ball beyond Benfica goalkeeper Helton Leite, they were firmly in control having drawn the first leg 1-1 in Rome's Olympic Stadium.

But from that point the game began to unravel as Benfica scored from their first two efforts on target - thanks to a helping hand from Ceballos.

To their credit, though, the Gunners, who had won just one of their past six matches, displayed plenty of resolve to come back from the brink of a damaging defeat that would surely have left their hopes of lifting a trophy this season in tatters.

Tierney was rewarded for a fine individual display by becoming the first Scottish player to score in a major European competition for the club since 1980.

And Aubameyang, who came in for criticism after missing several chances in the first leg, atoned with his second of the night from Saka's back-post cross.

Aside from sparing Arteta the inevitable questions over the club's progression under his stewardship, it also provided the Gabon forward with an element of redemption after his last-gasp miss sealed their fate against Olympiakos 12 months ago.

Leno's landmark - the stats

  • Arsenal have reached the last 16 of the Europa League in three of the four seasons they have appeared in the competition, with the only exception being in 2019-20 (eliminated at the last 32).
  • Benfica suffered their first Europa League defeat since February 2020 against Shakhtar Donetsk (2-1), ending their eight-game unbeaten run in the competition.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in seven of his past eight cup matches for Arsenal (10 goals in total - FA Cup - five, Europa League - four, Community Shield - one), only failing to net against Benfica in the first leg during this run.
  • Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (20) has more assists among English players for Premier League clubs in all competitions since the start of last season than Bukayo Saka (18), following his two assists this evening.
  • Kieran Tierney became the first Scotsman to score for Arsenal in a major European competition since Willie Young against Gothenburg in March 1980 in the Cup Winners Cup quarter-final.
  • Bernd Leno made his 100th appearance for Arsenal in all competitions, becoming the fifth German player to reach this milestone for the club after Jens Lehmann (200), Per Mertesacker (221) Mesut Ozil (254) and Shkodran Mustafi (151).

Player of the match

TierneyKieran Tierney

with an average of 7.98

Arsenal

  1. Squad number3Player nameTierney
    Average rating

    7.98

  2. Squad number14Player nameAubameyang
    Average rating

    7.86

  3. Squad number7Player nameSaka
    Average rating

    7.82

  4. Squad number11Player nameØdegaard
    Average rating

    6.47

  5. Squad number32Player nameSmith Rowe
    Average rating

    6.40

  6. Squad number18Player namePartey
    Average rating

    6.32

  7. Squad number9Player nameLacazette
    Average rating

    6.20

  8. Squad number1Player nameLeno
    Average rating

    5.95

  9. Squad number6Player nameGabriel Magalhães
    Average rating

    5.93

  10. Squad number34Player nameXhaka
    Average rating

    5.89

  11. Squad number12Player nameWillian
    Average rating

    5.86

  12. Squad number2Player nameBellerín
    Average rating

    5.63

  13. Squad number21Player nameChambers
    Average rating

    5.61

  14. Squad number23Player nameDavid Luiz
    Average rating

    5.59

  15. Squad number25Player nameMohamed Elneny
    Average rating

    5.49

  16. Squad number8Player nameDani Ceballos
    Average rating

    4.32

Benfica

  1. Squad number17Player nameDiogo Gonçalves
    Average rating

    5.26

  2. Squad number21Player namePizzi
    Average rating

    5.13

  3. Squad number30Player nameOtamendi
    Average rating

    5.12

  4. Squad number49Player nameTaarabt
    Average rating

    5.09

  5. Squad number27Player nameRafa
    Average rating

    5.07

  6. Squad number3Player nameGrimaldo
    Average rating

    5.01

  7. Squad number28Player nameWeigl
    Average rating

    5.01

  8. Squad number5Player nameVertonghen
    Average rating

    4.99

  9. Squad number4Player nameLucas Verissimo
    Average rating

    4.88

  10. Squad number7Player nameEverton
    Average rating

    4.79

  11. Squad number14Player nameSeferovic
    Average rating

    4.79

  12. Squad number10Player nameWaldschmidt
    Average rating

    4.72

  13. Squad number8Player nameGabriel Pires
    Average rating

    4.64

  14. Squad number77Player nameHelton Leite
    Average rating

    4.61

  15. Squad number71Player nameTavares
    Average rating

    4.53

  16. Squad number9Player nameNúñez
    Average rating

    4.44

Line-ups

Arsenal

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Leno
  • 2BellerínSubstituted forLacazetteat 78'minutes
  • 23David Luiz
  • 6Gabriel
  • 3Tierney
  • 8CeballosSubstituted forParteyat 63'minutes
  • 34Xhaka
  • 7SakaSubstituted forChambersat 90'minutes
  • 11ØdegaardSubstituted forElnenyat 90'minutes
  • 32Smith RoweSubstituted forWillianat 63'minutes
  • 14Aubameyang

Substitutes

  • 9Lacazette
  • 12Willian
  • 17Cédric Soares
  • 18Partey
  • 19Pépé
  • 21Chambers
  • 22Marí
  • 25Elneny
  • 30Nketiah
  • 33Ryan
  • 35Martinelli
  • 44Hein

Benfica

Formation 3-5-2

  • 77Aleixo Leite
  • 4Verissimo da Silva
  • 30Otamendi
  • 5Vertonghen
  • 17Cupido Goncalves
  • 21Afonso FernandesSubstituted forSousa Soaresat 58'minutes
  • 28WeiglSubstituted forWaldschmidtat 90'minutes
  • 49TaarabtBooked at 5minsSubstituted forAppelt Piresat 58'minutes
  • 3GrimaldoSubstituted forTavaresat 85'minutes
  • 27Ferreira Silva
  • 14SeferovicSubstituted forNúñezat 57'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Svilar
  • 2Junior
  • 7Sousa Soares
  • 8Appelt Pires
  • 9Núñez
  • 10Waldschmidt
  • 11Cervi
  • 19Machado
  • 38Delmino da Silva
  • 71Tavares
  • 88Matias Ramos
  • 99Vlachodimos
Referee:
Björn Kuipers

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamBenfica
Possession
Home53%
Away47%
Shots
Home10
Away6
Shots on Target
Home5
Away2
Corners
Home1
Away1
Fouls
Home10
Away3

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Arsenal 3, Benfica 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Arsenal 3, Benfica 2.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal).

  4. Post update

    Rafa (Benfica) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Post update

    Offside, Benfica. Nuno Tavares tries a through ball, but Rafa is caught offside.

  6. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny replaces Martin Ødegaard.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Calum Chambers replaces Bukayo Saka.

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Benfica. Gian-Luca Waldschmidt replaces Julian Weigl.

  9. Goal!

    Goal! Arsenal 3, Benfica 2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) header from very close range to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Bukayo Saka with a cross.

  10. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Gabriel Pires (Benfica) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nuno Tavares with a cross.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Benfica. Nuno Tavares replaces Alejandro Grimaldo.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Gabriel Magalhães (Arsenal).

  13. Post update

    Darwin Núñez (Benfica) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Alexandre Lacazette replaces Héctor Bellerín.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high.

  16. Post update

    Offside, Arsenal. Thomas Partey tries a through ball, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is caught offside.

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Darwin Núñez (Benfica) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. David Luiz (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Kieran Tierney with a cross.

  20. Goal!

    Goal! Arsenal 2, Benfica 2. Kieran Tierney (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Willian.

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