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Arsenal 3(4): 2(3) Benfica: Gunners’ player ratings as Aubameyang seals last 16 berth | UEFA Europa League 2020-21

Arsenal came from behind to claim a 3-2 win over Benfica in the Europa League.
Arsenal came from behind to claim a 3-2 win over Benfica in the Europa League.
Vaibhav Joshi
ANALYST
Modified 26 Feb 2021
Feature

A brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang helped Arsenal beat Benfica 3-2 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate to move into the last 16 of the 2020-21 Europa League.

Arsenal took the lead midway through the first half courtesy a delightful dinked finish from Aubameyang. The hosts looked to be in complete control of the tie, only to be pegged back on the stroke of half-time when Diogo Goncalves’ scored a stunning free-kick.

The Portuguese side took the lead in the tie when Rafa Silva scored in the 61st minute. But their lead proved shortlived, as six minutes later, Kieran Tierney's well-taken finish restored parity on the night.

With the visitors ahead on away goals, Arsenal completed a remarkable turnaround when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored three minutes from time to break Benfica hearts and send his team throughout to the next round.

Benfica have now exited the competition at the same stage for the second-straight season. On that note, let's have a look at the Arsenal player ratings in the game.


Bernd Leno: 5/10

It was a mixed outing for Bernd Leno on his 100th Arsenal appearance. He was hardly tested but conceded twice, even though he had little chance with either of Benfica’s goals.

Hector Bellerin: 4/10

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It was a poor performance from the Arsenal right-back, who was suspect in defence and not threatening in attack. Hector Bellerin was taken off for Alexandre Lacazette, with Arsenal upping the ante in search of the winner.

David Luiz: 5/10

David Luiz did not have the best of games against his former side, as he often found himself in uncomfortable situations against Benfica’s attackers.

Gabriel Magalhaes: 4/10

It was a nervy showing from the young Brazilian, who never looked comfortable in defence. Gabriel Magalhaes was also guilty of making many errors in the game.

Kieran Tierney: 7/10

Kieran Tierney grabbed a vital goal in the second half to bring Arsenal back into the tie.
Kieran Tierney grabbed a vital goal in the second half to bring Arsenal back into the tie.

Kieran Tierney capped off a characteristically energetic display down Arsenal’s left flank with a vital goal in the second half. That put Arsenal on level terms on the night before Aubameyeng scored a late winner to seal qualification.

Dani Ceballos: 3/10

It was an evening to forget for the Spanish midfielder. Dani Ceballos conceded the foul that led to Benfica's first goal before his weak backward header was pounced upon by Benfica to score their second. Ceballos was replaced by Thomas Partey soon thereafter.

Granit Xhaka: 4/10

With Ceballos playing the more mobile role in Arsenal’s midfield, Granit Xhaka was often left isolated and exposed in the middle of the park. The Swiss international was bypassed with far too much ease throughout the game.

Bukayo Saka: 7/10

Bukayo Saka set up Aubameyang for Arsenal's opener as well as the clincher with inch-perfect passes. In yet another sparkling display, Saka was full of clever running and verve.

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Martin Odegaard: 5/10

It was a tidy and efficient performance from the Real Madrid loanee. Martin Odegaard kept possession ticking over for Arsenal with simple and accurate passes but failed to make a telling impact in the final third.

Emile Smith Rowe: 4/10

It was a largely anonymous showing from the young Englishman. Emile Smith Rowe was left on the fringes of the action on Arsenal’s left wing before being taken off after his side went 2-1 down.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 8/10

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's brace proved to be the difference on the night for Arsenal

Arsenal’s match-winner, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed great composure for both his goals. He could have had a hat-trick, too, but for VAR to rule out a second-half effort from the Gabon international for offside.

Arteta will be glad to see his talismanic striker back amongst the goals, something that should augur well for Arsenal's hopes of a deep run in the competition.

Ratings of Arsenal Substitutes:

Thomas Partey: 5/10

Thomas Partey came on just after the hour mark and added some much-needed steel to the Arsenal midfield. That allowed his attackers to get the job done.

Willian: 5/10

Willian made an almost instant impact by assisting Tierney’s goal but did little else after coming on just after Arsenal went 2-1 down.

Alexandre Lacazette: N.A.

Alexandre Lacazette replaced Bellerin in the final ten minutes of the game but hardly made a telling impact.

Mohamed Elneny: N.A.

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Thrown on in added time to preserve Arsenal’s lead, Mohamed Elneny barely got a touch of the ball during his short stint.

Calum Chambers: N.A.

Calum Chambers was another injury-time substitute who was subbed on to shore up the defence. But he didn't have time to make an impact.

Published 26 Feb 2021, 02:33 IST
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