Arsenal 3 Valencia 1
Lacazette 18, 25 Aubameyang 90, Diakhaby 11

Alexandre Laczette struck a double with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang adding a late third Arsenal goal to give the Gunners the advantage in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final over Valencia at the Emirates. However the hosts got off to a shaky start, Ezequiel Garay striking high over the bar from three yards out, and when Mouctar Diakhaby rose unchallenged to head in from Rodrigo’s initial header back across the area to beat Peter Cech at the back post the La Liga side had a crucial away goal. Lacazette started the move from his own half to take Aubameyang’s return pass and strike into the open net with Neto stranded for the leveller. Valencia couldn’t handle Lacazette and the France striker put Arsenal in the lead with a powerful downward header from Granit Xhaka’s cross, which despite Neto clawing the ball out, goal line technology proved that his goal line had been crossed. The Gunners poured forward in search of a third. Neto twice denied Lacazette, but deep in injury time, Sean Kolasinac’s cross fell right for Aubameyang to hook in for a 3-1 scoreline to take to Spain next week.

Valencia are a very technically adroit outfit, they pass and move with quality and that showed early on here. Cech had to be alert to substitute Kevin Gameiro’s attempted chip over him, while Goncalo Guedes also caused problems in the final third. But taking a two goal cushion into he second leg will help Arsenal in their pursuit of going to the Europa League final in Baku. Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt are all square at 1-1 in the other semi-final. Lacazette urged his side to finish the job

“We know it’s going to be hard [in Valencia] so of course, getting as many goals as we could is better for us. I had two more chances where I could have done better but thankfully Aubameyang scored the third one. If we can go to Baku [for the Europa League final] it will be special.” After a Premier League sequence of three losses his strike partner Aubameyang was pleased to have scored the Arsenal third goal.

“I hope that third goal will be important. We started a bit nervous because we lost the last three games, I think that’s normal. We are human, but after that we had a good reaction. It’s our target to reach the final and win this trophy. We will give everything to qualify for the Champions League.”

Arsenal will next hope to get back to Premier League winning ways when they host Brighton for their final home game of the season on Sunday before a trip to Burnley the following week on the final day of the season when another win will be a must.