Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's double helped Arsenal overturn a first-leg deficit as a 3-0 home win took the Gunners past Rennes and into the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
Thursday, 14 February, 2019
UEFA Europa League Round of 16, second leg
Emirates Stadium, London
Arsenal FC 3-0 Stade Rennais FC (Arsenal through 4-3 on aggregate)
3-1 up after a brilliant performance in the home leg, Rennes were unable to maintain French representation in European competition as - like in the first leg - they were on the back foot from the off. Unlike at Roazhon Park, Julien Stephan's side were unable to recover.
Arsenal took the lead wth their first chance as former Saint-Etienne forward Aubamenyang (5') finished left-footed from close range following an Aaron Ramsey cross. Ten minutes later (15') Arsenal moved in front in the tie as Aubameyang turned provider, crossing for Ashley Maitland-Niles to head home a goal that broke the hearts of the many thousands of travelling Rennes supporters.
Rennes continue to be second best and ex-Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette, available again after suspension, could have extended Arsenal's advantage (39'). Rennes came out with greater intent at the start of the second half and M'Baye Niang's shot deflected off French defender Laurent Koscielny (47') onto the post of former Rennes goalkeeper Petr Cech (47').
A goal at this stage would have seen Rennes back in front on aggregate and the frustration continued as Ramy Benebaini hit the post (67'), albeit from an offside position. Former Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery's Arsenal moved into an even more commanding position (72') when Aubameyang beat the offside trap to finish off service from Sead Kolasinac.
Aubameyang could have punished Rennes still further (82', 83') as Rennes' historic European run came to a cruel end in London.
THE PLAYER: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
With former Lyon attacker Lacazette also available after having his European ban reduced, the ex-Saint-Etienne attacker proved the difference between the sides. With two goals and an assist the Gabonese international was the undoubted man of the match.
THE STAT: 1
Only Monaco have managed to beat Arsenal over two legs in European competition from seven attempts by French sides. That was in 2015 in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.