Arsenal got the job done at the Emirates in the second leg of their Europa League match up with Ligue 1 side Rennes. Trailing 3-1 after a dismal display last week in France, the Gunners needed at least a 2-0 victory to move on to the quarterfinals.
Arsenal didn’t waste any time in turning things around. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was on the score sheet after five minutes as he slotted home a pass from Aaron Ramsey. That set the mood for the entire night as Aubameyang was at the center of everything that the Gunners created, and the crowd could sense another Arsenal comeback.
Aubameyang was the architect for the second goal as well. The striker kept the ball from going out of bounds and in doing so was able to send a cross in to the box which was coolly met by the head of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. 15 minutes in and Arsenal had the 2-0 lead they needed to move on to the next round.
Of course this is Arsenal and protecting a lead for 75 minutes can be a daunting task while also giving supporters major anxiety. There were several misplaced passes and Rennes did hit the bar on a couple of occasions, but the Gunners kept the French side at bay. It also didn’t hurt that Rennes were flagged offside ten times throughout the match which cut short a number of attempts on goal.
Arsenal clung to their lead in the second half, but it was clear that another goal or two would certainly make things a lot less stressful. It was Aubameyang who helped calm the nerves when he slotted home his second goal of the match in the 72nd minute. His goal celebration was unique as the player celebrated by donning a Black Panther mask and displaying a “Wakanda Forever” salute.
Arsenal will find out who they will face in the Europa League quarterfinals on Friday.