Berlin, 26 February 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace as Arsenal came from behind to beat Benfica 3-2 on Thursday for a place in the last 16 of the Europa League.
The Gabon striker Aubameyang opened the scoring in the 21st and then nodded the winner that saw Arsenal through 4-3 on aggregate in the 87th at the far left post – set up by Bukayo Saka on both occasions.
Manchester United also advanced over Real Sociedad 4-0 overall after a goalless draw, while Leicester were shocked 2-0 at home and on aggregate by Slavia Prague to bow out. The Premier League however have three teams left as Tottenham advanced on Wednesday.
Germany lost both representatives as Hoffenheim crashed 2-0 at home and on aggregate against Norwegian minnows Molde from Eirik Andersen’s brace, and Bayer Leverkusen also lost 2-0 at home, against Swiss side Young Boys from Jordan Siebatchen’s header and Christian Fassnacht for a 6-3 aggregate defeat.
“It is very disappointing. We were caught out cold by the opening goal,” Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeness said, and Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah admitted “it is not our ambition to go out at this stage.”
Young Boys’ Fabian Lustenberger said after their first-ever last 16 berth: “We beat Leverkusen twice and showed we are not a one-hit wonder.”
Benfica reversed the early deficit against Arsenal from Diogo Goncalves curling free-kick into the top left corner, and Rafa after an attempted header from Dani Ceballos back to goalkeeper Bernd Leno went badly wrong.
Keiran Thirney made it 2-2 for the 2019 finalists Arsenal who owing to coronavirus restriction had to play their home game on the day in Piraeus, a week after Benfica’s home game took place in Rome instead of Lisbon.
That score would have seen Benfica through on away goals but Aubameyang then rescued the Gunners late in the game.
“Tonight I’m really happy that we won the game. The team showed character. We deserved the win,” Aubameyang told BT Sport.
United took a 4-0 first-leg lead over Real Sociedad into their home leg, and any comeback homes from the Spaniards ended when Mikel Oyarzubal hit a penalty wide. Both sides were denied by the crossbar and United had a goal disallowed.
Leicester meanwhile crashed out against Slavia, with the completely unmarked Lukas Provod driving a long cross home at the far right side and Abdallah Sima getting the second with a low drive.
AC Milan advanced over 10-man Red Star Belgrade, on away goals from a 3-3 aggregate after a 1-1 in Milan. Franck Kessie put Milan ahead with an early penalty, and Ben levelled for fighting Red Star who had Marko Gobeljic dismissed.
Roma ousted Braga 5-1 from a 3-1 on the night but a 2-1 home win for Napoli was not enough against Granada after a 2-0 defeat in Spain.
PSV Eindhoven’s Eran Zahari scored all four goals in the tie against Olympiacos but the Greeks advanced 5-4 on aggregate from an 88th-minute effort by Kouka in a 2-1 defeat in the Netherlands.
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers clobbered Antwerp 5-2 on the night and 9-5 overall, and the other clubs to advance were Ajax, Shakhtar Donetsk, Villarreal, Dinamo Zagreb and Dynamo Kiev.