Arsenal fight their way through to the Europa League quarter-finals

Alex Iwobi – Player of Arsenal - Vlad1988 / Shutterstock.com

Last week teams around Europe played the first leg of the UEFA Europa League round of sixteen. This week they played the return leg. We paid special attention to how Alex Iwobi, the Super Eagles midfielder, played for Arsenal.

After losing 3:1 in the first leg against Rennes, the Gunners needed to pull something out of the bag for the return leg at the Emirates. They needed to score at least two goals without conceding to make it to the next round.

The first goal came just five minutes into the match. Aaron Ramsey ran the ball down the flank and passed the ball into the box where he found Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang. The Frenchman then easily put the ball behind the keeper.

Ten minutes later Arsenal doubled their lead. This time it was Aubemayang who made the decisive pass towards the back post. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was in the right place for an easy header. With this goal, the Gunners levelled the aggregate score and were already through the courtesy of the away goal rule.

Arsenal kept attacking and Aubemayang almost scored his second in the 35th minute but his overhead kick went wide. Ramsey had a good strike in the 39th minute but the keeper saved it. It stayed at 2:0 Arsenal at the break.

Rennes started the second half better and immediately had a good chance. Ismaila Sarr had a good look but Petr Cech parried the ball into the post and safe. The visitors kept chipping at Arsenal and in the 66th minute, Rami Bensebaini almost scored hitting the post instead.

Alex Iwobi – Player of Arsenal - Vlad1988 / Shutterstock.com

Alex Iwobi – Player of Arsenal – Vlad1988 / Shutterstock.com

Alex Iwobi came off the bench in the 70th minute to replace Alexandre Lacazette. And with one of his first touches, he had a good shot at goal in the 71st minute which went just wide of the goal.

A minute later Sead Kolasinac passed the ball into the box to find Aubemayang who again just slotted the ball into the net. He gets his second goal and Arsenal confirm their passage to the quarter-finals.

Villareal was also back at home for their second leg against Zenit St. Petersburg. With a 3:1 win away from home they had a big advantage. Gerard scored the only goal in the first half to give the Yellow Submarine an advantage going into the break.

Two minutes after the restart, Carlos Bacca scored to double the lead for his team and make the aggregate score 5:1 to Villareal. Branislav Ivanovic scored a consolation goal for the Russians in the first minute of stoppage time but it was all over by then. Samuel Chukwueze sat the match out on the bench, but his team is through to the quarter-finals.

On Friday, there was a draw for the next round of matches. Arsenal will play Napoli while Villareal will take on fellow La Liga side Valencia. The first leg is scheduled for April 11th while the return leg will take place on April 18th.

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