Posted by News Express | 15 March 2019 | 844 times
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice at the Emirates and also teed up Ainsley Maitland-Niles as Arsenal edged Rennes 4-3 aggregate to join Chelsea in Friday’s Europa League quarter-final draw.
Arsenal’s triumph means that six English Premier League teams are in the two UEFA competitions. Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham had led the way in the Champions League.
Rennes had never before reached the last 16 of a major European competition and the scale of the tie for the French side was evidenced by the huge travelling support they enjoyed.
However, rather than be inspired, Julien Stephan’s side seemed intimidated by their surroundings early on to concede twice inside 15 minutes.
Arsenal quickly had the early goal they sought to get back in the tie as Aaron Ramsey’s low cross was swept home by Aubameyang.
The French-born Gabon international was also involved for Arsenal’s second 10 minutes later, although Rennes were right to feel aggrieved that the goal was allowed to stand.
Aubameyang appeared to be clearly offside from Ramsey’s pass with Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil even turning his back to the play expecting a flag.
However, it was not forthcoming and with VAR not in operation in the Europa League unlike the more lucrative Champions League, Maitland-Niles’s downward header from Aubameyang’s cross was allowed to stand.
Arsenal, though, then sat on their lead rather than building on it and could easily have paid for that approach after the break.
Petr Cech, in what could have been the Czech great’s last game before retiring at the end of the season had Arsenal not progressed, turned M’Baye Niang’s shot from outside the area onto the post.
Ismaila Sarr’s third goal for the hosts in the dying embers of the first leg looked to have swung the tie Rennes’ way and the Senegalese had the chance for a vital away goal, only for Sead Kolasinac to produce a saving last-ditch tackle.
Rennes were again unhappy with the Latvian officiating team when Lacazette escaped a second yellow card before the French international was replaced by Alex Iwobi.
With practically his first touch, Iwobi dragged a good chance to give Arsenal breathing space wide.
But 18 minutes from time they did have a cushion when having saved his side at one end, Kolasinac’s wonderful low cross left Aubameyang with a simple task to tap home his 22nd goal of the season and celebrated by pulling on a mask.
Aubameyang needed it back to hide his embarrassment soon after as he missed two glorious chances in the space of 60 seconds to seal his hat-trick.
But Arsenal held out to continue the Premier League’s resurgence and leave France without a single representative in the quarter-finals of either European competition.
Earlier on Thursday night, Chelsea cruised into the Europa League quarter-finals with an 8-0 aggregate thrashing of Dynamo Kiev, with Olivier Giroud scoring a hat-trick.
Napoli also booked a last-eight spot, despite losing the second leg in Salzburg.
After a 3-0 victory in last week’s last 16, first leg at Stamford Bridge, 2013 winners Chelsea were even more dominant in Kiev despite manager Maurizio Sarri ringing the changes, thumping the Ukrainians 5-0.
The Premier League giants are bidding for a first trophy under the Italian after losing last month’s English League Cup final to Manchester City, and hoping to secure qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Giroud, who is yet to start in the Premier League in 2019 after the signing of Gonzalo Higuain, netted a first-half double, before Marcos Alonso slid home a third on the stroke of half-time.
Frenchman Giroud completed his first Chelsea hat-trick by heading home Willian’s free-kick just before the hour mark and is now the leading scorer in this year’s competition with nine goals.
Teenage winger Callum Hudson-Odoi continued his own fine Europa League form, slotting in his fourth goal of the tournament after racing clear with 12 minutes remaining.
Elsewhere, Napoli wrapped up a 4-3 aggregate victory over last season’s semi-finalists Salzburg despite a 3-1 second-leg loss in Austria.
Arkadiusz Milik scored a crucial away goal in the 14th minute to all but end the tie, leaving Salzburg needing five unanswered goals to progress.
Munas Dabbur and Fredrik Gulbrandsen struck to give the hosts a glimmer of hope, but Christoph Leitgeb’s injury-time third goal was only enough to secure a consolation win on the night.
Russian outfit Krasnodar suffered heartbreak in the other early game, as Goncalo Guedes scored a dramatic injury-time equaliser to send Valencia through 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 second-leg draw.
The 19-year-old Magomed-Shapi Suleymanov’s 85th-minute effort looked set to dump out the Spaniards on away goals, but Portugal international Guedes came off the bench to send Valencia through.
Marcelino’s men have recovered well from a slow start to the season, having also reached the Copa del Rey final and stepped up their bid for a top-four place in La Liga.
•Based on News Agency reports.
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