After Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s late winner helped secure a dramatic 3-2 victory against Benfica to advance 4-3 overall, Arsenal is through the Europa League round of 16.
The Gunners were the home team despite the game being played in Athens, and they had all the early possession while the Portuguese outfit seemed nervous at the back and error-prone in the center of the field.
And it was a brilliant Bakayo Saka ball that opened up the Benfica backline after 20 minutes, with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang just needing a touch to dink Helton over into the net.
The Gunners were coasting and Saka almost doubled their lead, but minutes before half-time, Benfica rocked their opponents and put the brakes on the momentum of Arsenal as Diogo Goncalves scored a wonderful free-kick to level the game once more.
From then on, it was Benfica who looked the more dangerous, with the knowledge that a second away goal could carry the game beyond their rivals. And when Rafa Silva, who gratefully rounded Leno to slot into an empty net, intercepted Dani Ceballos’s woeful header back to Bernd Leno, they scored the goal and gave themselves the lead.
With two targets needed, the tie seemed beyond Arsenal, but Kieran Tierney responded with a rifled finish almost immediately to level the match at 2-2.
In their search for a third target that would bring them through, the Gunners were relentless, and just as all hope looked lost, Saka created another brilliant ball for Aubameyang to head home at the back post to keep their season alive.