Arsenal 3 Rennes 0 (4-3 on agg)
Aubameyang 5, 72, Maitland-Niles 15

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double inspired Arsenal to a 3-0 win over Rennes in their Europa League second leg at the Emirates. Trailing 3-1 going into this tie, Aubameyang struck within five minutes, and then provided the assist for Ainsley-Maitland Niles header after 15 minutes. The scores were then level going into the break, however, Aubameyang went through the gears after some good build up play from Aaron Ramsey and Sead Kolasinac to tap in from the latter’s cross. The Gunners held onto their one goal advantage although the Ligue 1 side did show some aggression. Alexandre Lacazette seemed to be targeted, but Unai Emery replaced him late on in the second half. That was the cool head needed on a night when Arsenal showed a steely side to their game to progress to the last eight of the competition.

Despite being 3-1 down going into the return leg, Arsenal were favourites to progress, but it was still going to be a tough ask. They needed to get off to a flier and they did just that. Lacazette saw an effort which Rennes keeper Tomas Koubak gathered, but with their next move Arsenal were in front.

Maitland-Niles carved up the right wing to find Aaron Ramsey alongside. The former Wales captain lined the ball up for Aubameyang to side foot past Koubak for the game’s opener.

The attacking intent and pace of the Rennes attack and from Ismaila Sarr in particular was well known from the first leg, and just beneath the surface, Arsenal had to be ready. But their three man defence Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, and Nacho Monreal were focused and closed down the Rennes attack at every turn.

When Aubameyang was alert to Granit Xhaka’s pass, with Kolasinac in an offside position, the Gabon striker got to the byeline to cross, and there was Maitland-Niles to head in the Gunners’ second of the night. The scores were now level, but Arsenal had the away goal.

Rennes were so dominant at home, but you always felt that they would come back at the Gunners. And so it proved. M’Baye Niang pounced onto a Mustafi slip up, and let fly with a low drive which hit the post after Petr Cech got his finger tips to the ball.

The pacy Sarr then got away to pull the trigger, but there was Kolasinac to make a vital block.

Aubameyang then stepped up with a memorable second after Ramsey had switched the ball over to the left for Kolasinac to cross. Aubameyang made no mistake and celebrated with a trademark superhero celebration, a Black Panther mask for which he received a yellow card.

The Gabon striker saw two further gilt edged chances to increase his and the Gunners tally, but played in by Iwobi, he hit tamely wide. Moments later he scuffed an even better chance leading to a few nervous moments when the board went up signalling five minutes of time added on.

Arsenal however held on to their lead and will be in the hat for the quarter-final draw on Friday.