Paris (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang spearheaded Arsenal’s revival by scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Rennes to reach the Europa League quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate, as Chelsea and Napoli also booked a last-eight spot on Thursday.
The Gunners cancelled out their 3-1 deficit from last week’s first leg in France inside 15 minutes as Aubameyang swept home from close range before teeing up Ainsley Maitland-Niles to head home.
However, Rennes had cause to complain as Aubameyang should have been flagged offside before the second goal.
With VAR not in use for the Europa League unlike the Champions League, there was no recourse for Rennes and the Ligue 1 side will also reflect on missed opportunities after the break as a historic European run for the club came to an end.
M’Baye Niang struck the post and Sead Kolasinac’s last-ditch tackle denied Ismaila Sarr before the Bosnian wing-back crossed for Aubameyang to give Arsenal breathing space.
Winning the Europa League also offers Arsenal and Chelsea the safety net of Champions League qualification should they fail to make the top four in the Premier League.
But Arsenal boss Unai Emery, who won the Europa League three times as Sevilla coach, also wants the glory of a trophy in his first season in charge.
“It is not only the possibility to go to Champions League, it is one title and we can feel the possibility to win one title,” said the Spaniard.
Chelsea cruised into the last eight with greater ease as six Premier League sides will take their place in Friday’s quarter-finals draws with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham in the last eight of the Champions League.
After a 3-0 victory in last week’s last 16, first leg at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were even more dominant in Kiev as Olivier Giroud scored his first hat-trick for the club.
“We started very well. We wanted to start in this way,” Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri told BT Sport. “We played a wonderful first half and managed the game in the second half.”
Giroud, who is yet to start in the Premier League in 2019 after the signing of Gonzalo Higuain, netted a first-half double, before Marcos Alonso slid home a third on the stroke of half-time.
Frenchman Giroud completed his hat-trick before teenage winger Callum Hudson-Odoi rounded off the scoring.
– Sevilla shocked by Slavia –
Five-time winners Sevilla were beaten 4-3 after extra time to lose a thrilling tie against Slavia Prague 6-5 on aggregate.