Arteta lauds Aubameyang as Arsenal progress

26 February 2021 19:58:39 GMTPlus10

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was quick to thank Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for his contribution as he scored the winner to help his club advance into the last 16 of the Europa League at the expense of Benfica.

The two sides had played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg, and Arsenal made a great start in the second as Aubameyang fired home in the 21st minute.

Benfica soon levelled through Diogo Goncalves as his curling free-kick beat Bernd Leno in the Arsenal goal. Dani Ceballos' foul led to the set-piece, and the midfielder was at fault for Benfica's second as his poor header helped Rafa Silva break away before putting Benfica 2-1 up.

With 30 minutes remaining, Arsenal found the two goals they needed to qualify for the next round. Kieran Tierney's low drive set up a grandstand finish, and Aubameyang then rescued the Gunners with three minutes left of regulation time.

Arsenal were eliminated from the Europa League at the same stage last season by Olympiakos, but they showed plenty of heart under Arteta.

He was quick to single out Aubameyang at the full-time whistle, with the Spaniard claiming he has complete faith in his striker.

"I completely trust him because he is the producing the chances, and you know when Auba has chances, he's going to score goals," Arteta told reporters.

"The last few days after the game in Rome against them, where he missed three or four opportunities, and normally they are three goals for him, he needed to react and it was great to see the way he reacted is being upset and trying to be better - and not just feeling sad for yourself in this moment. I am really pleased with what he's done tonight."

Arsenal are 5.00 to win the Europa League and will find out their last-16 opponents on Friday before they take on Leicester in the Premier League on Sunday.

Arteta will be hoping Thursday's result can lift his squad after a recent defeat to Manchester City, and they are 51.00 to finish in the top six this season.

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