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United Arab Emirates
3 - 2
P. Aubameyang (21)
K. Tierney (67)
P. Aubameyang (87)
Diogo Gonçalves (43)
Rafa Silva (61)
Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki
Arsenal v Benfica Live Commentary,
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3 - 2
2 - 2
1 - 2
1 - 1
1 - 0
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target
That’s all for now. Goodbye!
It really did look grim for Arsenal at 2-1 down, but Tierney and Aubameyang pulled them back from the brink, and possibly handed Arteta a real lifeline. The Gunners are into the last 16, and this is their only chance of a trophy this term.
What a win for Arsenal, who came back from looking down and out to beat Benfica and progress into the last 16 of the Europa League. Aubameyang missed a sitter in the defeat to Olympiacos last term, but the Gunners’ captain came up big with a late winner to secure a much-needed triumph which keeps Arsenal’s season alive.
90' + 4'
FULL TIME: ARSENAL 3-2 BENFICA (4-3 ON AGGREGATE).
90' + 3'
MISS! How has that not gone in? Tavares dropped in a brilliant cross which Rafa headed at goal, yet it bounced back off the post. His blushes are spared, somewhat, by the offside flag, though.
90' + 2'
Tavares tries a long throw, but it is cleared by Chambers. The Benfica full-back gets a second chance to get the ball in, and delivers an inviting cross, yet David Luiz is on hand to get it away.
90' + 1'
There will be a minimum of four minutes added on.
Saka, possibly the man of the match, has also been replaced. Chambers is on.
Odegaard has made way for the Gunners, with Arteta making a defensive switch – Elneny comes on.
A roll of the dice for Benfica, as Weigl is replaced by Waldschmidt.
What a heartbreaking moment for Benfica, who seemed set to do enough. There was a VAR check for offside, but Aubameyang had just held his run.
Saka has been a standout performer today, and since the start of last season, no Arsenal player has had a hand in more goals in the Europa League than Saka (three goals, eight assists).
GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!! AUBAMEYANG SCORES! Is that the goal that sends Arsenal through? They have completed the turnaround – Saka delivering a wonderful cross to the back post, where Aubameyang is on hand to nod home. It’s 3-2 Arsenal, and the Gunners are going through!
Tavares makes an immediate impact as he crosses to tee up a close-range shot, but Tierney stands firm to get in a vital block, and Arsenal are back on the attack.
Another Benfica change. Grimaldo has made way for Tavares.
It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that Arsenal are fighting to save their season, here. They are out of both domestic cup competitions and are way off the pace in the Premier League, even for a top-four challenge.
Arsenal seem to have lost some shape in midfield and at the back, and that is giving Benfica the chance to get a foothold and retain possession There is seven minutes remaining, plus stoppage time…
Tierney is the first Scotsman to score for Arsenal in major European competition since Willie Young against IFK Giteborg in March 1980 in the Cup Winners Cup quarter-final.
An attacking change from Arteta, though Arsenal fans may question why it did not come slightly earlier. Lacazette is on, replacing Bellerin, and it seems Saka will switch to right-back.
CHANCE! A dreadful clearance from Helton gives Saka the opportunity to get into Benfica’s box. At the second attempt, the winger manages it, but his shot soars wide.
Good goalkeeping from Leno, who comes to Arsenal’s rescue when he rushes out to prevent a Benfica attacker getting on the end of a pass after Gabriel had conceded possession. At the other end, Odegaard finds space, but goes for the pass instead of a shot, and Benfica clear their lines.
Willian’s assist for Tierney’s equaliser means the Brazilian has provided his first goal involvement for Arsenal in 14 games – since his assist against Wolves in November.
David Luiz tries his luck from distance, but drags his effort well wide of Helton’s goal.
Arsenal have won on each of their previous two visits to Greece, both against, Olympiakos, in the Champions League in December 2015 and the Europa League in February 2020. Can they make it three from three and progress here? There's 20 minutes left...
That is just the response Arsenal required, and it is one of Arteta’s substitutes who has had an impact, with Willian getting the assist.
GOOOOAALLLL!!! TIERNEY! What a finish that is from the full-back. Willian got down the left and supplied a pass into the former Celtic youngster, who sidesteps his marker before drilling a brilliant strike across Helton and into the bottom-right corner. It’s 2-2, but Arsenal still need another one!
Benfica have scored with their only two shots on target so far in this game.
Arsenal search for a swift response, with Saka rising to meet a cross from the right, but his header loops safely to Helton.
E. Smith Rowe
Smith Rowe has also gone off. Willian is on in the youngster’s place.
Arteta reacts by making two changes. Ceballos is one of the players to go off. He has made way for Partey, who has returned from injury.
It all came from an Arsenal corner, but their defence never looked set, and the Gunners will now need to score twice if they are to go through.
GOAL! Oh my word, what a mistake from Ceballos! It was the midfielder who conceded the free-kick for Benfica’s equaliser, and he has now cost Arsenal a second. Helton kicked it long and Ceballos inexplicably tried to head it back to Leno. He was totally unaware of Rafa, however, and the forward nipped onto it, rounded Leno and hit home in an empty net.
Taarabt has also gone off, to be replaced by Gabriel.
Pizzi, who has been on the fringes of things, also makes way. He has been replaced by the pacy and direct Everton.
A raft of changes now for Benfica. First, Seferovic makes way for Nunez.
Odegaard takes up a position on the right and looks to slip in Bellerin. The full-back is tracked by Vertonghen, however, and Benfica’s defender forces a throw-in.
Arsenal string a long move together, but Benfica remain steadfast in their shape, refusing to be drawn out. One positive, from an attacking perspective, for Arsenal is that Odegaard is becoming a lot more involved in dangerous positions.
Odegaard has played well so far without showing his quality in the final third, but it was on full display there. That was a wonderful pass from the Norway international. It is just a shame Aubameyang had gone a tad too early.
NO GOAL! Aubameyang has dinked the ball into the net for a second time, though the offside flag is up. He got on the end of a sublime pass from Odegaard, which split Benfica’s defence, but the striker had just drifted offside, with VAR confirming the linesman's call.
Benfica’s only previous away match against Arsenal saw them win at Highbury in the European Cup last 16 in 1991-92. Managed at the time by Sven-Goran Eriksson, Benfica needed extra-time goals from Vasiliy Kulkov and Isaias to secure a 3-1 win.
The second half is up and running. No changes for either side at the break.
One more goal in this game means that, whatever happens, the tie will be settled within 90 minutes. If Benfica score, then Arsenal will need to net twice to win, and Arteta has to get his team reorganised for the second half.
A hugely disappointing end to the half for Arsenal, who have been pegged back by Goncalves’ stunning free-kick – Benfica's first direct free-kick goal in the Europa League since February 2014. Aubameyang had put the Gunners ahead, but they threw away their hard-earned lead.
45' + 2'
HALF-TIME: ARSENAL 1-1 BENFICA (2-2 ON AGGREGATE).
45' + 1'
Arsenal look rattled by the goal and Benfica are swarming forward in search of a second. The Gunners need to get to the break without suffering any further damage!
What a costly error from Ceballos, and Arsenal – who had controlled this game – have handed their opponents a way back into this tie. If it stays as it stands, the game will go to extra-time.
GOOOOOAAALLL!! BENFICA STRIKE BACK! What a hit from Goncalves! He gets his effort up and over the wall and it dips wickedly into the top-left corner, giving Leno no chance! It’s 1-1!
Another goal for Arsenal before the break really could put this tie to bed. However, the Gunners now have to defend a free-kick right on the edge of their own box, after Ceballos felled Weigl.
Neat footwork from Odegaard, who gets himself out of a tight spot inside Arsenal’s own half. It results in a break and Ceballos eventually slips through Saka, whose first-time shot is well saved by Helton. The youngster should really have scored, though the offside flag would ultimately have chalked it off.
Saka is clearly frustrated with Smith Rowe. The winger cut inside on his left and played a pass into his fellow academy graduate, who had the opportunity to return the favour, only to go backwards and waste a good chance to get Saka through on goal.
After that spell of Benfica pressure, Arsenal are back in control. Xhaka attempts to thread a pass down the line. It is cut out, but Smith Rowe leads the counter-press, preventing Benfica from breaking.
CLOSE! A first real opening for Benfica comes from a set-piece. Pizzi whipped in an inviting cross which was met by former Tottenham man Vertonghen. He gets his head on it, but can’t keep his effort down.
Since the start of last season, Saka has provided more assists in all competitions than any other Arsenal player (17).
Benfica’s tactics were clearly to contain Arsenal and try to steal an away goal on the break, to give them the edge in the tie. From that perspective, the tie has not changed too much – a 1-1 draw would send this game to extra-time.
Aubameyang has scored in seven of his last eight cup matches for Arsenal (nine goals – five in the FA Cup, three in the Europa League and one in the Community Shield).
Arsenal are playing with real verve and confidence. Ceballos – who has seen plenty of the ball in midfield – takes on a strike from long range, but skies it well over.
Another chance for Arsenal, as Verissimo makes a mess of his attempted clearance. Aubameyang tries to pounce on it, but can’t get enough on his header.
It was a perfect pass from Saka, who found the space to unleash Aubameyang and dissect Benfica’s three-man defence, which of course includes Premier League veterans Vertonghen and Otamendi, who certainly aren’t the quickest.
GOAL! ARSENAL TAKE THE LEAD! Aubameyang has put the Gunners ahead, lifting a superb, composed finish over Helton after latching onto Saka’s excellent through ball. There is a check for offside, but the goal stands. It’s 1-0 Arsenal!
Neat and tidy play from Benfica, who have now got a foothold in the match and are getting the influential Pizzi more involved.
Arsenal have enjoyed 58.7 per cent possession so far, though they have managed just one attempt, the same amount as Benfica.
That’s poor from Seferovic! He got onto a neat pass in behind Arsenal’s line but, without getting his head up, he drilled in a cross which was aimed at nobody in particular, and since no Benfica players had got up in support, the move comes to nothing.
Benfica have hardly had any of the ball, but are now starting to offer more of a threat on the break. Arsenal’s defence recovered, but the Portuguese team certainly have plenty of attacking quality on show.
Arsenal have won five of their last six home matches against Portuguese opposition (D1), scoring 20 goals across those five victories.
Benfica surrender possession cheaply in midfield – Pizzi’s backheel putting them on the back foot. Saka attempts a cross, but can’t find a team-mate.
A long ball sets Aubameyang clear. He races to keep it in and cuts in on his right foot but, from a tight angle, his attempts curler floats harmlessly to Helton.
Tierney bursts down the left and manages to attempt a cross. However, Goncalves followed the left-back all the way and got a foot on it, allowing Helton to collect under no pressure.
An early booking for Taarabt – who of course is a former Premier League player. He has found his form with Benfica, but just lunged in late on Gabriel.
Arsenal had a good experience on this ground last season, when they beat Olympiacos in the first leg of their round of 32 tie. However, they then slumped out in thrilling fashion in the return fixture, before the season was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
KICK-OFF! Arsenal get proceedings underway.
The teams are out on the pitch and almost ready to go. As Arsenal are officially the home team – even though this game is being played in Athens – a 0-0 draw would be enough to send the Gunners through.
Just one change from the side that started in Rome for the Gunners, as Tierney replaces Cedric. David Luiz is making his 100th European appearance, going up against one of his former clubs. Benfica have made two alterations, with Rafa and Seferovic coming in.
Mikel Arteta unsurprisingly names a strong XI, headed by captain Aubameyang. With the Gunners well off the pace in the race for a top-four spot in the Premier League, this represents probably their best chance of playing in next season's Champions League. Former Spurs attacking midfielder Adel Taarabt is among the Benfica line-up.
BENFICA SUBSTITUTES: Gilberto, Chiquinho, Pedrinho, Darwin Nunez, Everton, Gabriel Pires, Franco Cervi, Odisseas Vlachodimos, Mile Svilar, Goncalo Ramos, Gian-Luca Waldschmidt, Nuno Tavares.
BENFICA (3-5-2): Helton Leite; Jan Vertonghen, Lucas Verissimo, Nicolas Otamendi; Alejandro Grimaldo; Adel Taarabt; Diogo Gonçalves, Pizzi, Julian Weigl; Haris Seferovic, Rafa.
ARSENAL SUBSTITUTES: Pablo Mari, Willian, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Calum Chambers, Cedric Soares, Karl Hein, Mat Ryan, Gabriel Martinelli.
ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel Magalhaes, Kieran Tierney; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Like in the first leg, travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic means an alternative venue for this contest was needed, and it is all to play for at the halfway stage – this tie is taking place in Athens. Last week's match was played in Rome.
The tie is nicely poised from last week's first clash between these European heavyweights, with Pizzi's 55th-minute penalty quickly cancelled out by Bukaya Saka.
Hello and welcome to our LIVE coverage of this Europa League last-32 second-leg contest between Arsenal and Benfica, being played at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece!