Arsenal overcame their 3-1 first-leg deficit and beat Rennes 3-0 at the Emirates, with Aubameyang the hero with a brace and an assist.
Arsenal banked yet again on their home atmosphere to enter the Europa League quarterfinals. The Gunners needed to score a minimum of two goals without conceding any, and the team did respond to the loss in France with a three-goal haul and a clean sheet. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the hero, scoring two and assisting the other, as Arsenal made it into the last eight.
Arsenal started on the front foot, much like they did in the first leg as Aubameyang scored within the first five minutes after some good team play from the side. The Gabonese then turned provider as he nicked a ball that was on it’s way out and converted into a cross for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to score off a header.
Arsenal, then endured an indifferent period as they struggled to emulate the dominant period that saw them score two goals, but somehow maintained composure and kept Rennes’ attack at a minimum. Unai Emery made some inspired substitutions, bringing in Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, which immediately bore results as Arsenal scored their third, again through Aubameyang.
IT'S COMEBACK SZN 😎
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 14, 2019
Aubameyang could have completed his hat-trick had he not missed two gilt-edged chances late on in the game. Despite those misses, the striker would be happy with the team’s performance and the result, which ensures Arsenal’s entry into the quarterfinals of the Europa League.
And here’s how we rated the performances of Unai Emery’s stars on a triumphant night at the Emirates;
Petr Cech: 7/10
Nothing much to do in the first half, but was composed enough to deal with whatever was thrown in the box. Made a crucial save in the second period to slightly tip Niang’s goal-bound shot near the post, and after that when Rennes started attacking, he held his ground well.
Shkodran Mustafi: 6.5/10
Mustafi needs to bring composure in his game. It’s not to say he was terrible, but one moment of madness led to Rennes hitting the post, while a bigger side would have punished Arsenal. Otherwise good in defence.
Laurent Koscielny: 7.5/10
Rarely a moment in the game when Koscielny looked out of position, or Rennes attackers dragging him. Anchored the defence well, ensuring Ben Arfa & co. were quiet for most parts of the game.
Nacho Monreal: 8/10
The best of the Arsenal back three. Read the game well, and dealt with whatever was coming at him. His role as wide center half is much more suited to him, as he is fantastic in one-on-one situations.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 8.5/10
Easily one of Arsenal’s best players on the field. Maitland-Niles followed up with his performance against Manchester United with a brilliant one against Rennes. The wing-back was at the heart of Arsenal’s attacking moves and set the tempo. Played a crucial part for the first goal and then scored the second himself with a good header.
Sead Kolasinac: 8/10
Kolasinac’s improvements could be seen with each passing game. Yet another solid display, especially using his marauding runs from the left flank. Got an assist for the third goal.
Aaron Ramsey: 8/10
A tight game from the Welshman. Ramsey took a few knocks during the game but held his own when it comes to controlling the flow of the match. Created more chances than any other Arsenal player, got the assist for the first goal and could have got more had Aubameyang scored.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
Xhaka was tasked with a rather difficult role of controlling play in the middle. With Aaron Ramsey more an adventurous midfielder, Xhaka had the job behind, and he did it well.
Mesut Ozil: 7/10
Not a bad game, but a tale of two halves. Ozil was very tidy in the first half, creating few chances and spraying out his typical passes, but his influence waned off in the second period.
Alexandre Lacazette: 7.5/10
Rennes players desperately tried to get him sent off, for such was Lacazette’s threat on this game. As usual, he was industrious and worked hard all throughout his time on the pitch. Great support for Aubameyang up front.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 9/10
Top star, top celebration! Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ensured Arsenal reached the quarter-finals with two goals and an assist on a night when his side needed a hero. He did the hero stuff and then the superhero celebration!
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 7
Mkhitaryan’s introduction was a catalyst to Arsenal scoring the third goal. Immediately changed the composure of attack and provided the vital pass for Kolasinac to set Aubameyang up for the third.
Alex Iwobi – 7
Much like Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi too had a positive impact when he came on to trouble the tired legs of Rennes defenders. Almost scored the minute he came on, but overall did well.
Lucas Torreira – N/A
Sent late on in the game to shore up the midfield and protect the lead. Helped in doing that.